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Full text of "A Christmas Carol"

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■I 



THE JVAVERLET EBITIOV^ 
OF THE WORKS OF 
CHARLES T>ICKECNiS 




THE PUBLISHERS WISH TO ACKNOW- 
LEDGE THEIR INDEBTEDNESS TO MR. 
G. K. CHESTERTON FOR CONTRIBUTING 
THE PREFATORY NOTE TO THIS EDITION 
OF THE WORKS OF CHARLES DICKENS 



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J./^M 




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I^ir v/.:i I!/:/. ■n!iJTA;r3 ^Ina: 



BOB CRATCHIT AND TINY TIM 

From the original drawing by 
FRED BARNARD 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 
AND OTHER TALES 

BY CHARLES DICKENS 

ILLUSTRATED BY CHARLES PEARS' CHARACTER 
STUDIES AND A COLOURED REPRODUCTION 
FROM AN ORIGINAL DRAWING BY FRED 
BARNARD : WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 
G. K. CHESTERTON 



THE WAVERLEY BOOK COMPANY LIMITED 
LONDON : SEVEN OLD BAILEY, E.C. 



THIS EDITION OF THE WORKS OF 
CHARLES DICKENS HAS BEEN DESIGNED 
BY AND PRINTED UNDER THE SUPER- 
VISION OF CHAS. HOME MACCALL 
AT THE BALLANTYNE PRESS 
LONDON 



INTRODUCTION TO 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

BY G. K. CHESTERTON 

There are elements about the position of Dickens in 
English literature which tend to make him not only 
heroic, but almost legendary. There is his unique 
appeal to the comparatively poor, who deal with 
stories and not story-tellers, just as children do : Pick- 
wick is more real to them than Dickens. There is the 
curious mixture in his characters of what some describe 
as unnatural, with what all would recognise as vivid : he 
is the realist of unrealities. There is, chiefly, the fact 
that so many of his finest outbursts were concerned with 
special festivals, notably the Christian festival of Yule. 
It is no wonder that, instead of being regarded as a mere 
literary gentleman like Thackeray or a mere literary cad 
like Disraeli, he has come to be regarded vaguely as 
something more than a gentleman and more even than 
a man : as an erratic household god like Santa Claus. 
But there is yet another reason for this legendary 
atmosphere clinging round one of the latest of our 
great authors. There has sprung up within the last 
century a very vile habit of talking about the Hour 
and the Man. It is a superstition, and not even 
a noble one. No real man appears exactly at the 
hour, except the little wooden man on the old clocks. 
Heroes seldom turn up exactly at heroic moments : 
for punctuality is not one of the virtues of heroes. The 
great prophets (and prigs) turn up too early : the great 
magnanimous poets turn up too late. Moreover, to 
talk of " the man " is to fling all other men among the 
beasts of the field. Goliath, who was a Philistine like 
myself, said, " Give me a man that we may fight 
together." If he had said, " Give me the man," I 
should have known that he was not a jolly and 
gigantic Philistine, but a dwarfish and depressed 
decadent. You or I, being human, ought to take the 
giant's challenge as addressed to all of us. You ought 

V b 



vi INTRODUCTION 

not to wait for the Man — nor for the Hour. You 
ought to take the nearest hour, which is the next ; and 
the nearest man, which is you. 

As a matter of fact most of the millions of sane men 
and women who have lived and died on this planet 
have adopted this simple notion of self-respect ; they 
have worked for whatever they thought worth working 
for and fought for whatever they thought worth 
fighting for ; and they have generally perpetuated 
that, though not themselves. Such a thing as the 
fe^st of Christmas in Northern Europe has been kept 
up, as all old customs are kept up, by a dull democratic 
tenacity. It has continued and continues through the 
madness of Calvinism, the grossness of Industrialism, 
and the deepening darkness of Social Reform. Most 
of these essential things have not been saved by great 
men, but rather in spite of great men. All the really 
unforgotten things we owe to the forgotten people. 
In all history I can only think of one case in which 
one might truly say that the Man appeared at the 
Hour. Napoleon, even, is not really a satisfying 
example ; for the best part of his victories were not 
due either to the man or the hour, but to the curious 
circumstance that Frenchmen fight extremely well. 
The one real case is that of Dickens and the " Christ- 
mas Carol." The nineteenth-century Christmas and 
Charles Dickens were really the hour and the man. He 
was the hero in a hundred ways ; but chiefly in this 
very heroic quality : that he very nearly came too late. 
He came just in time to save the embers of the Yule 
Log from being trampled out. It even cost him some 
trouble to kindle our newer Christian torches at so 
fading a glow : that is the explanation of the real 
intensity, almost amounting to irritation, which 
vibrates through this famous parable and which breaks 
out like artillery in the more militant parable of 
" The Chimes." 
For Scrooge, ^though not perhaps a very real character 



I 



INTRODUCTION vii 

in fiction, was a very real character in history. 
There really was a time when the determining mind 
of England (which was the mind of the more ambitious 
middle class) came within an ace of admitting the 
philosophy of Scrooge, with all its frost-bitten efficiency 
and ungainly bustle. People did say " let them die 
and decrease the surplus population." Many of the 
followers of Malthus said so openly : and, what is more 
important, were not kicked for saying it. Now that 
Malthus has intellectually disappeared (as diabolists 
always do when they have done all the harm they can) ; 
now that their successors, the sociologists of to-day, 
are much more frightened of population drying up 
than of it developing extravagantly, it is really difficult 
for us to imagine how iron and enormous this economic 
argument appeared to our grandfathers. People did 
go about talking of " the fool who says ' A Merry 
Christmas ' " ; similar phrases can be found in grave 
and influential works of Dickens's day. Macaulay, 
though personally a man munificently charitable, 
defends faintly, and as if with a dazed respect, the 
suggestion of Malthusians that charity to the poor 
should be restricted or should cease. This horrible 
frame of mind was, of course, the product of many 
peculiar causes : chiefly of the fact that the old 
European religion, struck at so long before, had by 
this time almost bled to death. It was partly due, 
again, to that genuine and not unjust fascination that 
is always exercised on men's minds by a system that 
is very complete and clear. The old individualistic 
theory of buying and selling seemed almost unanswer- 
able by arguments, until it began to be answered by 
facts. It was partly the quite unique commercial 
success of England : it was partly, again, a real terror of 
the revolt of the hungry masses, which made men 
otherwise humane tend to watch them like wolves. 
For one of the things we never ought to forget, 
but always do forget, is this : that our grandfathers 



viii INTRODUCTION 

lived in perpetual expectation of the revolution ; the 
revolution which (alas !) never happened. 
In this connection Dickens's " Christmas Carol " is 
marked by a curious artistic convention as fiction. 
Scrooge, in this little romance, is a fantastic and old- 
fashioned miser like Dancer ; a type which has existed 
in all ages, but which exists more openly perhaps in a 
simpler and ruder age. But the opinions of Scrooge 
were not merely the opinions of the old men, but of 
many of the young men of that epoch ; of men in 
good coats and go-ahead businesses, who obtained 
official positions and wrote in first-class reviews. In 
real life, old Scrooge would have been quite as 
likely to be the defender of Christmas and his brisk 
young nephew its contemptuous enemy. Dickens had 
discovered this by the time he came to write about 
Gradgrind and Bounderby and Charlie Hexham. 
But the case is even stronger. A real Dickensian, 
akin to the soul of Dickens, cannot, of course, conceive 
him otherwise than as the champion of that cheerful 
and tender-hearted morality which is expressed in the 
mysteries and mummeries of the Christmas season. 
But looked at in a more sweeping and superficial 
way, as his own contemporaries would have looked 
at it (especially at this early stage of his career) there 
might well appear something hairbreadth and even acci- 
dental about his partisanship. It would seem but touch 
and go, and he might have made fun of the formalities 
of Christmas, as of the formalities of Chancery, have 
painted the house-party of the Wardles as scornfully 
as the house-party of the Dedlocks, and put the praise 
of Yule not into the mouth of Mrs. Cratchit, but of 
Mrs. Skewton, as a gushing illusion about " the good 
old times." This is the final fact emphasising the 
dramatic importance of this book in history. Even 
when the champion arrived, those who knew him 
generally might well have hesitated on which side he 
would strike. But the champion did not hesitate. 



PREFACE 

THE narrozv space within which it was necessary to confine these Christmas 
Stories, when they were originally -published, rendered their construction 
a matter of some difficulty, and almost necessitated what is peculiar in 
their machinery. I could not attempt great elaboration of detail in the 
working out of character within such limits. My chief purpose was, 
in a whimsical kind of masque which the good-humour of the season 
justified, to awaken some loving and forbearing thoughts, never out of 
season in a Christian land. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL [/iV FRO^E\ : BEING 
A GHOSI STORT OF CHRISTMAS 



STAVE ONE : Marley's Ghost 

Marley was dead : to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about 
that. The register o£ his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, 
the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it : and Scrooge's 
name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. 
Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. 

Mind ! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what 
there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, 
myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the 
trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile ; and my 
unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You 
will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead 
as a door-nail. 

Scrooge knew he was dead ? Of course he did. How could it be 
otherwise ? Scrooge and he were partners for I don't know how many 
years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole 
assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend and sole mourner. And 
even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he 
was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and 
solemnised it with an undoubted bargain. 

The mention of Marley's funeral brings me back to the point I started 
from. There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be dis- 
tinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am 
going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's 
Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remark- 
able in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own 
ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman 
rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot — say Saint Paul's Church- 
yard for instance — literally to astonish his son's weak mind. 

cc. I A 



2 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name. There it stood, years 
afterwards, above the warehouse door : Scrooge and Marley. The firm 
was known as Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the business 
called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both 
names : it was all the same to him. 

Oh ! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge ! a 
squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old 
sinner ! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck 
out generous fire : secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. 
The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, 
shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait ; made his eyes red, his thin lips 
blue ; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was 
on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own 
low temperature always about with him ; he iced his office in the dog- 
days ; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas. 

External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth 
could warm, nor wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was 
bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no 
pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to 
have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast 
of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often " came 
down " handsomely, and Scrooge never did. 

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, 
" My dear Scrooge, how are you ? When will you come to see me ? " 
No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what 
it was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way 
to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men's dogs 
appeared to know him ; and when they saw him coming on, would tug 
their owners into doorways and up courts ; and then would wag their 
tails as though they said, " No eye at all Is better than an evil eye, dark 
master ! " 

But what did Scrooge care f It was the very thing he liked. To edge 
his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy 
to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call " nuts " to 
Scrooge. 

Once upon a time — of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve 
— old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, biting 
weather : foggy withal : and he could hear the people in the court outside 
go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and 
stamping their feet upon the pavement-stones to warm them. The 
City clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already : 
it had not been light all day : and candles were flaring in the windows 
of the neighbouring offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown 
air. The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so 
dense without, that although the court was of the narrowest, the houses 
opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 3 

down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that Nature lived 
hard by, and was brewing on a large scale. 

The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open that he might keep 
his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal httle cell beyond, a sort of tank, 
was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk's fire 
was so very much smaller that it looked Hke one coal. But he couldn't 
replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room ; and so 
surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it 
would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his 
white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle ; in which 
effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed. 

" A merry Christmas, uncle ! God save you ! " cried a cheerful voice. 
It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that 
this was the first intimation he had of his approach. 
" Bah ! " said Scrooge, " Humbug ! " 

He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this 
nephew of Scrooge's, that he was all in a glow ; his face was ruddy and 
handsome ; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again. 

" Christmas a humbug, uncle ! " said Scrooge's nephew. " You don't 
mean that, I am sure." 

" I do," said Scrooge. " Merry Christmas ! What right have you 
to be merry ? What reason have you to be merry ? You're poor 
enough." 

" Come, then," returned the nephew gaily. '' What right have you 
to be dismal .? What reason have you to be morose ? You're rich 
enough." 

Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, 
said, " Bah ! '' again ; and followed it up with " Humbug." 
*' Don't be cross, uncle," said the nephew. 

" What else can I be," returned the uncle, " when I Hve in such a 
world of fools as this ? Merry Christmas ! Out upon merry Christmas ! 
What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money ; 
a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer ; a time 
for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round 
dozen of months presented dead against you .? If I could work my will," 
said Scrooge, indignantly, " every idiot who goes about with ' Merry 
Christmas,' on his Hps, should be boiled with his own pudding, and 
buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should ! " 
" Uncle I " pleaded the nephew. 

" Nephew ! " returned the uncle, sternly, " keep Christmas in your 
own way, and let me keep it in mine." 

" Keep it ! " repeated Scrooge's nephew. " But you don't keep it." 

" Let me leave it alone, then," said Scrooge. " Much good may it do 

you ! Much good it has ever done you ! " *.;•' 'Vi 

" There are many things from which I might have derived good, by 

which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew : '* Christmas 



4 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas 
time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its 
sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from 
that — as a good time : a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time : 
the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and 
women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to 
think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to 
the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. 
And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in 
my pocket, I beheve that it has done me good, and will do me good ; 
and I say, God bless it ! " 

The clerk in the Tank involuntarily applauded : becoming immediately 
sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire and extinguished the last 
frail spark for ever. 

" Let me hear another sound from yoz^f," said Scrooge, " and you'll 
keep your Christmas by losing your situation. You're quite a powerful 
speaker, sir," he added, turning to his nephew. " I wonder you don't 
go into Parhament." 

" Don't be angry, uncle. Come ! Dine with qs to-morrow." 

Scrooge said that he would see him yes, indeed he did. He went 

the whole length of the expression, and said that he would see him in 
that extremity first. 

" But why ? " cried Scrooge's nephew. " Why .? " 
" Why did you get married ? " said Scrooge. 
" Because I fell in love." 

" Because you fell in love ! " growled Scrooge, as if that were the only 
one thing in the world more ridiculous than a merry Christmas. " Good 
afternoon ! " 

" Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me before that happened. 
Why give it as a reason for not coming now .? " 
" Good afternoon," said Scrooge. 

'' I want nothing from you ; I ask nothing of you ; why cannot we be 
friends ? " 

" Good afternoon," said Scrooge. 

" I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute. We have 
never had any quarrel, to which I have been a party. But I have made 
the trial in homage to Christmas, and I'll keep my Christmas humour 
to the last. So A Merry Christmas, uncle ! " 
" Good afternoon ! " said Scrooge. 
" And a Happy New Year ! " 
" Good afternoon ! " said Scrooge. 

His nephew left the room without an angry word, notwithstanding 
He stopped at the outer door to bestow the greetings of the season on 
the clerk, who, cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge ; for he returned 
them cordially. 

" There's another fellow," muttered Scrooge ; who overheard him : 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 5 

" my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking 
about a merry Christmas. I'll retire to Bedlam." 

This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two other people 
in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, 
with their hats oif, in Scrooge's office- They had books and papers in 
their hands, and bowed to him. 

" Scrooge and Marley's, I beheve," said one of the gentlemen, referring 
to his list. " Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. 
Marley ? " 

" Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years," Scrooge rephed. " He 
died seven years ago, this very night." 

" We have no doubt his hberality is well represented by his surviving 
partner," said the gentleman, presenting his credentials. 

It certainly was ; for they had been two kindred spirits. At the 
ominous word " liberality," Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and 
handed the credentials back. 

" At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, 
taking up a pen, " it is more than usually desirable that we should make 
some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly 
at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common neces- 
saries ; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir." 

" Are there no prisons ? " asked Scrooge. 

" Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again. 

" And the Union workhouses ? " demanded Scrooge. " Are they still 
in operation ? " 

" They are. Still," returned the gentleman, " I wish I could say they 
were not." 

" The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then ? " said 
Scrooge. 

" Both very busy, sir." 

" Oh ! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had 
occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. " I'm very 
glad to hear it." 

" Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of 
mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, " a few of 
us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, 
and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all 
others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall 
I put you down for ? " 

" Nothing ! " Scrooge replied. 

" You wish to be anonymous .? " 

" I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge. " Since you ask me what I 
wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at 
Christmas, and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to 
support the establishments I have mentioned : they cost enough : and 
those who are badly off must go there." 



6 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

" Many can't go there ; and many would rather die." 

" If they would rather die," said Scrooge, " they had better do it, and 
decrease the surplus population. Besides — excuse me — I don't know 
that." 

" But you might know it," observed the gentleman. 

" It's not my business," Scrooge returned. " It's enough for a man 
to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people's. 
Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen ! " 

Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the 
gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved 
opinion of himself, and in more facetious temper than was usual with him. 

Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, that the people ran 
about with flaring links, proffering their services to go before horses in 
carriages, and conduct them on their way. The ancient tower of a 
church, whose gruff old bell was always peeping slily down at Scrooge 
out of a Gothic window in the wall, became invisible, and struck the 
hours and quarters in the clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards 
as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there. The cold 
became intense. In the main street at the corner of the court, some 
labourers were repairing the gas-pipes, and had lighted a great fire in a 
brazier, round which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered : 
warming their hands and winking their eyes before the blaze in rapture. 
The water-plug being left in solitude, its overflowings sullenly congealed, 
and turned to misanthropic ice. The brightness of the shops where 
holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp heat of the windows, made 
pale faces ruddy as they passed. Poulterers' and grocers' trades became a 
splendid joke : a glorious pageant, with which it was next to impossible 
to believe that such dull principles as bargain and sale had anything to 
do. The Lord Mayor, in the stronghold of the mighty Mansion House, 
gave orders to his fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord 
Mayor's household should : and even the little tailor, whom he had fined 
five shilhngs on the previous Monday for being drunk and bloodthirsty 
in the streets, stirred up to-morrow's pudding in his garret, while his 
lean wife and the baby salhed out to buy the beef. 

Foggier yet, and colder ! Piercing, searching, biting cold. If the 
good Saint Dunstan had but nipped the Evil Spirit's nose with a touch 
of such weather as that, instead of using his familiar weapons, then indeed 
he would have roared to lusty purpose. The owner of one scant young 
nose, gnawed and mumbled by the hungry cold as bones are gnawed by 
dogs, stooped down at Scrooge's keyhole to regale him with a Christmas 
carol : but at the first sound of 

" Gcd bless you^ merry gentleman ! 
May nothing you dismay ! " 

Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action, that the singer fled 
in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 7 

At length the hour of shutting up the counting-house arrived. With 
an ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool, and tacitly admitted the 
fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank, who instantly snuffed his candle 
out, and put on his hat. 

" You'll want all day to-morrow, I suppose ? " said Scrooge. 

" If quite convenient, sir." 

" It's not convenient," said Scrooge, " and it's not fair. If I was to 
stop half-a-crown for it, you'd think yourself ill-used, I'll be bound ? " 

The clerk smiled faintly. 

" And yet," said Scrooge, " you don't think me ill-used, when I pay 
a day's wages for no work." 

The clerk observed that it was only once a year. 

" A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of 
December ! " said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. " But 
I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next 
morning ! " 

The clerk promised that he would ; and Scrooge walked out with a 
growl. The office was closed in a twinkling, and the clerk, with the long 
ends of his white comforter dangling below his waist (for he boasted no 
great-coat), went down a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane of boys, 
twenty times, in honour of its being Christmas Eve, and then ran home 
to Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at blindman's-buff. 

Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern ; 
and having read all the newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the evening 
with his banker's-book, went home to bed. He lived in chambers 
which had once belonged to his deceased partner. They were a gloomy 
suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so 
little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have 
run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other 
nouses, and have forgotten the way out again. It was old enough now, 
and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it but Scrooge, the other rooms 
being all let out as offices. The yard was so dark that even Scrooge, 
who knew its every stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The fog 
and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house, that it seemed 
as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the 
threshold. 

Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the 
knocker on the door, except that it was very large. It is also a fact, that 
Scrooge had seen it, night and morning, during his whole residence in 
that place ; also that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy about 
him as any man in the City of London, even including — which is a bold 
word — the corporation, aldermen, and livery. Let it also be borne in 
mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley, since his 
last mention of his seven-years' dead partner that afternoon. And then 
let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Scrooge, 
having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its 



8 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

undergoing any intermediate process of change : not a knocler, but 
Marley's face. 

Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects 
in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a 
dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley 
used to look : with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. 
The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air ; and, though 
the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its 
livid colour, made it horrible ; but its horror seemed to be in spite of 
the face and beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression. 

As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker 
again. 

To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious 
of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, 
would be untrue. But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished, 
turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle. 

He did pause, with a moment's irresolution, before he shut the door ; 
and he did look cautiously behind it first, as if he half-expected to be 
terrified with the sight of Marley's pig-tail sticking out into the hall. 
But there was nothing on the back of the door, except the screws and 
nuts that held the knocker on ; so he said " Pooh, pooh ! " and closed it 
with a bang. 

The sound resounded through the house like thunder. Every room 
above, and every cask in the wine-merchant's cellars below, appeared 
to have a separate peal of echoes of its own. Scrooge was not a man to 
be frightened by echoes. He fastened the door, and walked across the hall, 
and up the stairs : slowly too : trimming his candle as he went. 

You may talk vaguely about driving a coach-and-six up a good old 
flight of stairs, or through a bad young Act of Parliament ; but I mean 
to say you might have got a hearse up that staircase, and taken it broad- 
wise, with the splinter-bar towards the wall, and the door towards the 
balustrades : and done it easy. There was plenty of width for that 
and room to spare ; which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thought 
he saw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom. Half-a- 
dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn't have lighted the entry too 
well, so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with Scrooge's dip. 

Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that : darkness is cheap, 
and Scrooge liked it. But before he shut his heavy door, he walked 
through his rooms to see that all was right. He had just enough recol- 
lection of the face to desire to do that. 

Sitting-room, bedroom, lumber-room. All as they should be. 
Nobody under the table, nobody under the sofa ; a small fire in the 
grate ; spoon and basin ready ; and the little saucepan of gruel (Scrooge 
had a cold in his head) upon the hob. Nobody under the bed ; nobody 
in the closet ; nobody in his dressing-gown, which was hanging up in a 
suspicious attitude against the wall. Lumber-room as usual. Old fire- 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 9 

guard, old shoes, two fish-baskets, washing-stand on tliree legs, and a 
poker. 

Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in ; double- 
locked himself in, which was not his custom. Thus secured against 
surprise, he took ofiP his cravat ; put on his dressing-gown and shppers, 
and his nightcap ; and sat down before the fire to take his gruel. 

It was a very low fire indeed ; nothing on such a bitter night. He was 
obliged to sit close to it, and brood over it, before he could extract the 
least sensation of warmth from such a handful of fuel. The fireplace 
was an old one, built by some Dutch merchant long ago, and paved all 
round with quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the Scriptures 
There were Cains and Abels, Pharaoh's daughters, Queens of Sheba, 
Angelic messengers descending through the air on clouds like feather- 
beds, Abrahams, Belshazzars, Apostles putting off to sea in butter-boats, 
hundreds of figures, to attract his thoughts ; and yet that face of Marley, 
seven years dead, came hke the ancient Prophet's rod, and swallowed up 
the whole. If each smooth tile had been a blank at first, vnth power 
to shape some picture on its surface from the disjointed fragments of his 
thoughts, there would have been a copy of old Marley's head on every 
one. 

" Humbug ! " said Scrooge ; and walked across the room. 

After several turns, he sat down again. As he threw his head back in 
the chair, his glance happened to rest upon a bell, a disused bell, that hung 
in the room, and communicated for some purpose now forgotten wdth a 
chamber in the highest storey of the building. It was with great astonish- 
ment, and wdth a strange, inexplicable dread, that as he looked, he saw 
this bell begin to swing. It swung so softly in the outset that it scarcely 
made a sound ; but soon it rang out loudly, and so did every bell in the 
house. 

This might have lasted half a minute, or a minute, but it seemed an 
hour. The bells ceased as they had begun, together. They were 
succeeded by a clanking noise, deep down below ; as if some person 
were dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the wine-merchant's cellar. 
Scrooge then remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses 
were described as dragging chains. 

The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then he heard 
the noise much louder, on the floors below ; then coming up the stairs ; 
then coming straight towards his door. 

" It's humbug still ! " said Scrooge. " I won't believe it." 

His colour changed though, when, without a pause, it came on 
through the heavy door, and passed into the room before his eyes. Upon 
its coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried " I kno\v 
him ! Marley's Ghost ! " and fell again. 

The same face : the very same. Marley In his pigtail, usual waistcoat, 
tights and boots ; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and 
his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was 

cc. a' 



10 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a 
tail ; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, 
keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. His 
body was transparent ; so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking 
through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind. 

Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels, but he 
had never beheved it until now. 

No, nor did he beheve it even now. Though he looked the phantom 
through and through, and saw it standing before him ; though he felt 
the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes ; and marked the very 
texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head and chin, which 
wrapper he had not observed before : he was still incredulous, and 
fought against his senses. 

" How now ! " said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever. " What do you 
want with me ? " 

" Much ! " — Marley's voice, no doubt about it. 

" Who are you ? " 

" Ask me who I was.'^^ 

" Who were you then .? " said Scrooge, raising his voice. " You're 
particular — for a shade." He was going to say " to a shade," but 
substituted this, as more appropriate. 

" In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley." 

" Can you — can you sit down ? " asked Scrooge, looking doubtfully 
at him. 

" I can." 

" Do it then." 

Scrooge asked the question, because he didn't know whether a ghost so 
transparent might find himself in a condition to take a chair ; and felt 
that in the event of its being impossible, it might involve the necessity 
of an embarrassing explanation. But the Ghost sat down on the opposite 
side of the fireplace, as if he were quite used to it. 

" You don't believe in me," observed the Ghost. 

" I don't," said Scrooge. 

" What evidence would you have of my reaHty beyond that of your 
senses ? " 

" I don't know," said Scrooge. 

" Why do you doubt your senses ? " 

" Because," said Scrooge, " a little thing affects them. A slight 
disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested 
bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an under- 
done potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever 
you are ! " 

Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel, 
in his heart, by any means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried 
to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down 
his terror ; for the spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL ii 

To sit, staring at those fixed, glazed eyes, in silence for a moment, 
would play, Scrooge felt, the very deuce with him. There was something 
very awful, too, in the spectre's being provided with an infernal atmo- 
sphere of its own. Scrooge could not feel it himself, but this was clearly 
the case ; for though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless, its hair, and 
skirts, and tassels, were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an 
oven. 

" You see this toothpick ? " said Scrooge, returning quickly to the 
charge, for the reason just assigned ; and wishing, though it were only 
for a second, to divert the vision's stony gaze from himself. 

" I do," replied the Ghost. 

" You are not looking at it," said Scrooge. 

" But I see it," said the Ghost, " notwithstanding." 

" Well ! " returned Scrooge. " I have but to swallow this, and be 
for the rest of my days persecuted by a legion of goblins, all of my own 
creation. Humbug, I tell you — humbug ! " 

At this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain with such a 
dismal and appalKng noise, that Scrooge held on tight to his chair, to 
save himself from falling in a swoon. But how much greater was his 
horror, when the phantom taking off the bandage round its head, as if it 
were too warm to wear indoors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its 
breast ! 

Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands before his face. 

" Mercy ! " he said. " Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me ? " 

" Man of the worldly mind I " replied the Ghost, " do you believe in 
me or not ? " 

" I do," said Scrooge. " I must. But why do spirits walk the earth, 
and why do they come to me ? " 

" It is required of every man," the Ghost returned, " that the spirit 
within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and 
wide ; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so 
after death. It is doomed to wander through the world — oh, woe is 
me ! — and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, 
and turned to happiness ! " 

Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its chain, and wrung its 
shadowy hands. 

" You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. " Tell me why } " 

" I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. " I made it 
link by link, and yard by yard ; I girded it on of my own free will, and 
of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you ? " 
Scrooge trembled more and more. 

" Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, " the weight and length 
of the strong coil you bear yourself ? It was full as heavy and as long 
as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is 
a ponderous chain ! " 

Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in the expectation of finding 



12 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable : but he 
could see nothing. 

" Jacob," he said, imploringly. " Old Jacob Marley, tell me more. 
Speak comfort to me, Jacob." 

" I have none to give," the Ghost replied. " It comes from other 
regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other 
kinds of men. Nor can I tell you what I would. A very little more, is 
all permitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger 
anywhere. My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house — mark 
me ! — in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our 
money-changing hole ; and weary journeys lie before me ! " 

It was a habit with Scrooge, whenever he became thoughtful, to put 
his hands in his breeches pockets. Pondering on what the Ghost had 
said, he did so now, but without lifting up his eyes, or getting off his 
knees. 

" You must have been very slow about it, Jacob," Scrooge observed, 
in a business-like manner, though with humility and deference. 

" Slow ! " the Ghost repeated. 

" Seven years dead," mused Scrooge. " And travelling all the time ! " 

" The whole time," said the Ghost. " No rest, no peace. Incessant 
torture of remorse." 

" You travel fast ? " said Scrooge. 

' On the wings of the wind," replied the Ghost. 

" You might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years," 
said Scrooge. 

The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clanked its chain 
so hideously in the dead silence of the night, that the Ward would have 
been justified in indicting it for a nuisance. 

" Oh ! captive, bound, and double-ironed," cried the phantom, " not 
to know, that ages of incessant labour, by immortal creatures, for this 
earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is 
all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in 
its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short 
for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret 
can make amends for one life's opportunity misused ! Yet such was I ! 
Oh ! such was I ! " 

" But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, 
who now began to apply this to himself. 

' Business 1 " cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. " Mankind 
was my business. The common welfare was my business ; charity, 
mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The 
dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean 
of my business ! " 

It held up its chain at arm's length, as if that were the cause of all its 
unavaihng grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again. 

" At this time of the rolling year," the spectre said, " I suffer most. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 13 

Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with 1117 eyes turned 
down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise 
Men to a poor abode ! Were there no poor homes to which its light 
would have conducted me ! ^^ 

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this 
rate, and began to quake exceedingly. 

" Hear me ! " cried the Ghost. " My time is nearly gone." 
" I will," said Scrooge. " But don't be hard upon me ! Don't be 
flowery, Jacob ! Pray ! " 

" How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you can see, I may 
not tell. I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day." 

It was not an agreeable idea. Scrooge shivered, and wiped the 
perspiration from his brow. 

" That is no hght part of my penance," pursued the Ghost. '' I am 
here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of 
escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my procuring, Ebenezer." 
" You were always a good friend to me," said Scrooge. " Thank'ee ! " 
" You will be haunted," resumed the Ghost, " by Three Spirits." 
Scrooge's countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost's had done. 
" Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob ? " he demanded, 
in a faltering voice. 
"It is." 

" I — I think I'd rather not," said Scrooge. 

" Without their visits," said the Ghost, " you cannot hope to shun 
the path I tread. Expect the first to-morrow, when the bell tolls 
one." 

" Couldn't I take 'em all at once, and have it over, Jacob ? " hinted 
Scrooge. 

" Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third 
upon the next night when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to vibrate. 
Look to see me no more ; and look that, for your own sake, you remember 
what has passed between us ! " 

When it had said these words, the spectre took its wrapper from the 
table, and bound it round its head, as before. Scrooge knew this, by the 
smart sound its teeth made, when the jaws were brought together by the 
bandage. He ventured to raise his eyes again, and found his supernatural 
visitor confronting him in an erect attitude, with its chain wound over 
and about its arm. 

The apparition walked backward from him ; and at every step it took, 
the window raised itself a little, so that when the spectre reached it, it 
was wide open. It beckoned Scrooge to approach, which he did. When 
they were within two paces of each other, Marley's Ghost held up its 
hand, warning him to come no nearer. Scrooge stopped. 

Not so much in obedience, as in surprise and fear : for on the raising 
of the hand, he became sensible of confused noises in the air ; incoherent 
sounds of lamentation and regret ; wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and 



14 ACHRISTMASCAROL 

self -accusatory. The spectre, after listening for a moment, joined in 
the mournful dirge ; and floated out upon the bleak, dark night. 

Scrooge followed to the window : desperate in his curiosity. He 
looked out. 

The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in 
restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore 
chains hke Marley's Ghost ; some few (they might be guilty govern- 
ments) were linked together ; none were free. Many had been personally 
known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one 
old ghost, in a white waistcoat, v\ath a monstrous iron safe attached to 
its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman 
with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery with 
them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human 
matters, and had lost the power for ever. 

Whether these creatures faded into mist or mist enshrouded them, 
he could not tell. But they and their spirit voices faded together ; and 
the night became as it had been when he walked home. 

Scrooge closed the window, and examined the door by which the 
Ghost had entered. It was double-locked, as he had locked it with his 
own hands, and the bolts were undisturbed. He tried to say " Humbug ! " 
but stopped at the first syllable. And being, from the emotion he had 
undergone, or the fatigues of the day, or his glimpse of the Invisible 
World, or the dull conversation of the Ghost, or the lateness of the hour, 
much in need of repose ; went straight to bed, without undressing, and 
fell asleep upon the instant. 



STAVE TWO : The First of the Three Spirits 

When Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that looking out of bed, he could 
scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of 
his chamber. He was endeavouring to pierce the darkness with his ferret 
eyes, when the chimes of a neighbouring church struck the four quarters. 
So he listened for the hour. 

To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from six to seven, 
and from seven to eight, and regularly up to twelve ; then stopped. 
Twelve ! It was past two when he went to bed. The clock was wrong. 
An icicle must have got into the works. Twelve ! 

He touched the spring of his repeater, to correct this most preposterous 
clock. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve ; and stopped. 

" Why, it isn't possible," said Scrooge, " that I can have slept through 
a whole day and far into another night. It isn't possible that anything has 
happened to the sun, and this is twelve at noon ! " 

The idea being an alarming one, he scrambled out of bed, and groped 
his way to the window. He was obhged to rub the frost off with the 
sleeve of his dressing-gown before he could see anything ; and could see 
very little then. All he could make out was, that it was still very foggy 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 15 

and extremel/ cold, and that there was no noise of people running to and 
fro, and making a great stir, as there unquestionably would have been if 
night had beaten off bright day, and taken possession of the world. This 
was a great relief, because " three days after sight of this First of Exchange 
pay to Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge or his order," and so forth, would have 
become a mere United States' security if there were no days to count by. 

Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought, and thought 
it over and over and over, and could make nothing of it. The more he 
thought, the more perplexed he was ; and the more he endeavoured not 
to think, the more he thought. Marley's Ghost bothered him exceed- 
ingly. Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, 
that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong spring 
released, to its first position, and presented the same problem to be 
worked all through, " Was it a dream or not ? " 

Scrooge lay in this state until the chimes had gone three quarters 
more, when he remembered, on a sudden, that the Ghost had warned 
him of a visitation when the bell tolled one. He resolved to He awake 
until the hour was passed ; and, considering that he could no more go 
to sleep than to go to Heaven, this was perhaps the wisest resolution in 
his power. 

The quarter was so long, that he was more than once convinced he 
must have sunk into a doze unconsciously, and missed the clock. At 
length it broke upon his listening ear. 

" Ding, dong ! " 

'" A quarter past," said Scrooge, counting. 

" Ding, dong ! " 

" Half -past I " said Scrooge. 

" Ding, dong ! " 

" A quarter to it," said Scrooge. 

" Ding, dong ! " 

" The hour itself," said Scrooge, triumphantly, " and nothing else ! " 

He spoke before the hour bell sounded, which it now did with a deep, 
dull, hollow, melancholy One. Light flashed up in the room upon the 
instant, and the curtains of his bed were drawn. 

The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a hand. Not 
the curtains at his feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to which 
his face was addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside ; and 
Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face 
to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them : as close to it as I am 
now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow. 

It was a strange figure — Uke a child : yet not so Hke a child as like an 
old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him 
the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished 
to a child's proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down 
its back, was white as if with age ; and yet the face had not a wrinkle 
n it. and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long 



i6 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

and muscular ; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon 
strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed, were, like those 
upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white ; and round 
its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. 
It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand ; and, in singular con- 
tradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer 
flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of 
its head there sprang a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was 
visible ; and which was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller 
moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its 
arm. 

Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with increasing steadiness, 
was not its strangest quality. For as its belt sparkled and ghttered now 
in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant, at another 
time was dark, so that the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness : being 
now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now 
a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body : of which 
dissolving parts, no outhne would be visible in the dense gloom wherein 
they melted away. And in the very wonder of this, it would be itself 
again : distinct and clear as ever. 

" Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me ? " asked 
Scrooge. 

"lam!" 

The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead of being 
so close beside him, it were at a distance. 

" Who, and what are you ? " Scrooge demanded. 

" I am the Ghost of Christmas Past." 

" Long past ? " inquired Scrooge : observant of its dwarfish stature. 

" No. Your past." 

Perhaps, Scrooge could not have told anybody why, if anybody could 
have asked him ; but he had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap ; 
and begged him to be covered. 

" What ! " exclaimed the Ghost, " would you so soon put out, with 
worldly hands, the light I give ? Is it not enough that you are one of 
those whose passions made this cap, and force me through whole trains 
of years to wear it low upon my brow ! " 

Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to oflfend, or any know- 
ledge of having wilfully " bonneted " the Spirit at any period of his 
life. He then made bold to inquire what business brought him there. 

" Your welfare ! " said the Ghost. 

Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking 
that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that 
end. The Spirit must have heard him thinking, for it said immediately : 

" Your reclamation, then. Take heed ! " 

It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped him gently by 
the arm. 




Scrooge 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 17 

" Rise ! and walk with me ! " 

It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the weather and 
the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes ; that bed was warm, 
and the thermometer a long way below freezing ; that he was clad but 
lightly in his slippers, dressing-gown, and nightcap ; and that he had 
a cold upon him at that time. The grasp, though gentle as a woman's 
hand, was not to be resisted. He rose : but finding that the Spirit 
made towards the window, clasped its robe in supplication. 

" I am a mortal," Scrooge remonstrated, " and hable to fall." 

" Bear but a touch of my hand there,'^ said the Spirit, laying it upon 
his heart, " and you shall be upheld in more than this ! " 

As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and stood 
upon an open country road, with fields on either hand. The city had 
entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was to be seen. The darkness 
and the mist had vanished with it, for it was a clear, cold, winter day, 
with snow upon the ground. 

" Good Heaven ! " said Scrooge, clasping his hands together, as he 
looked about him. " I was bred in this place. I was a boy here ! " 

The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch, though it had 
been light and instantaneous, appeared still present to the old man's 
sense of feeling. He was conscious of a thousand odours floating in the 
air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, 
and cares long, long forgotten ! 

" Your lip is trembling," said the Ghost. " And what is that upon 
your cheek ? " 

Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in his voice, that it was a 
pimple ; and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would. 

" You recollect the way ? " inquired the Spirit. 

" Remember it ! " cried Scrooge, with fervour — " I could walk it 
bhndfold." 

" Strange to have forgotten it for so many years ! " observed the 
Ghost. " Let us go on." 

They walked along the road ; Scrooge recognising every gate, and post, 
and tree ; until a little market-town appeared in the distance, with its 
bridge, its church, and winding river. Some shaggy ponies now were 
seen trotting towards them with boys upon their backs, who called to 
other boys in country gigs and carts, driven by farmers. All these boys 
were in great spirits, and shouted to each other, until the broad fields 
were so full of merry music, that the crisp air laughed to hear it. 

" These are but shadows of the things that have been," said the Ghost. 
" They have no consciousness of us." 

The jocund travellers came on ; and as they came, Scrooge knew and 
named them every one. Why was he rejoiced beyond all bounds to see 
them ? Why did his cold eye glisten, and his heart leap up as they went 
past ? Why was he filled with gladness when he heard them give each 
other Merry Christmas, as they parted at cross-roads and by-ways, for 



i8 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

their several homes ! What was merry Christmas to Scrooge ? Out 
upon merry Christmas ! What good had it ever done to him ? 

" The school is not quite deserted," said the Ghost. " A solitary 
child, neglected by his friends, is left there still." 

Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed. 

They left the high-road, by a well-remembered lane, and soon 
approached a mansion of dull red brick, with a little weathercock- 
surmounted cupola, on the roof, and a bell hanging in it. It was a 
large house, but one of broken fortunes ; for the spacious offices were 
little used, their walls were damp and mossy, their windows broken, and 
their gates decayed. Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables ; and the 
coach-houses and sheds were overrun with grass. Nor was it more 
retentive of its ancient state, within ; for entering the dreary hall, and 
glancing through the open doors of many rooms, they found them poorly 
furnished, cold, and vast. There was an earthy savour in the air, a 
chilly bareness in the place, which associated itself somehow with too 
much getting up by candle-light, and not too much to eat. 

They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a door at the 
back of the house. It opened before them, and disclosed a long, bare, 
melancholy room, made barer still by Hnes of plain deal forms and desks. 
At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire ; and Scrooge 
sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he had 
used to be. 

Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak and scuffle from the mice 
behind the panelling, not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in 
the dull yard behind, not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one despon- 
dent poplar, not the idle swinging of an empty store-house door, no, 
not a cHcking in the fire, but fell upon the heart of Scrooge with softening 
influence, and gave a freer passage to his tears. 

The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to his younger self, 
intent upon his reading. Suddenly a man, in foreign garments : wonder- 
fully real and distinct to look at : stood outside the window, with an 
axe stuck in his belt, and leading an ass laden with wood by the bridle. 

" Why, it's Ah Baba ! " Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. " It's dear old 
honest Ali Baba ! Yes, yes, I know ! One Christmas time, when yonder 
sohtary child was left here all alone, he did come, for the first time, just 
like that. Poor boy ! And Valentine," said Scrooge, " and his wild 
brother, Orson ; there they go ! And what's his name, who was put 
down in his drawers, asleep, at the Gate of Damascus ; don't you see 
him ? And the Sultan's Groom turned upside down by the Genii ; 
there he is upon his head ! Serve him right. I'm glad of it. What 
business had he to be married to the Princess ? " 

To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature on such 
subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying ; 
and to see his heightened and excited face ; would have been a surprise 
to his business friends in the City indeed. 



ACHRISTMASCAROL 19 

" There's the Parrot ! " cried Scrooge. " Green body and yellow 
tail, with a thing like a lettuce growing out o£ the top of his head ; there 
he is ! Poor Robin Crusoe, he called him, when he came home again 
after saiHng round the island. ' Poor Robin Crusoe, where have you 
been, Robin Crusoe ? ' The man thought he was dreaming, but he 
wasn't. It was the Parrot, you know. There goes Friday, running for 
his life to the Httle creek ! Halloa ! Hoop ! Halloo ! " 

Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character, 
he said, in pity for his former self, " Poor boy ! " and cried again. 

" I wish," Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and 
looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff : " but it's too 
late now." 

" What is the matter ? " asked the Spirit. 

" Nothing," said Scrooge. " Nothing. There was a boy singing a 
Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him 
something : that's all." 

The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its hand : saying as it did 
so, " Let us see another Christmas ! " 

Scrooge's former self grew larger at the words, and the room became a 
little darker and more dirty. The panels shrank, the windows cracked ; 
fragments of plaster fell out of the ceiling, and the naked laths were 
shown instead ; but how all this was brought about, Scrooge knew no 
more than you do. He only knew that it was quite correct ; that 
everything had happened so ; that there he was, alone again, when aU 
the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays. 

He was not reading now, but walking up and down despairingly, 
Scrooge looked at the Ghost, and with a mournful shaking of his head, 
glanced anxiously towards the door. 

It opened ; and a little girl, much younger than the boy, came darting 
in, and putting her arms about his neck, and often kissing him., addressed 
him as her " Dear, dear brother." 

" I have come to bring you home, dear brother ! " said the child, 
clapping her tiny hands, and bending down to laugh. " To bring you 
home, home, home ! " 

" Home, httle Fan ? " returned the boy. 

" Yes ! " said the child, brimful of glee. " Home, for good and all. 
Home, for ever and ever. Father is so much kinder than he used to be, 
that home's like Heaven ! He spoke so gently to me one dear night when 
I was going to bed, that I was not afraid to ask him once more if you 
might come home ; and he said Yes, you should ; and sent me in a coach 
to bring you. And you're to be a man ! " said the child, opening her 
eyes, " and are never to come back here ; but first, we're to be together 
all the Christmas long, and have the merriest time in all the world." 

" You are quite a woman, little Fan ! " exclaimed the boy. 
She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to touch his head ; but 
being too little, laughed again, and stood on tiptoe to embrace him. 



20 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

Then she began to drag him, in her childish eagerness, towards the door ; 
and he, nothing loth to go, accompanied her. 

A terrible voice in the hall cried, " Bring down Master Scrooge's 
box, there ! " and in the hall appeared the schoolmaster himself, who 
glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescension, and threw 
him into a dreadful state of mind by shaking hands with him. He then 
conveyed him and his sister into the veriest old well of a shivering 
best-parlour that ever was seen, where the maps upon the wall, and the 
celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows, were waxy with cold. 
Here he produced a decanter of curiously light wine, and a block of 
curiously heavy cake, and administered instalments of those dainties to 
the young people : at the same time, sending out a meagre servant to 
offer a glass of " something " to the postboy, who answered that he 
thanked the gentleman, but if it was the same tap as he had tasted before, 
he had rather not. Master Scrooge's trunk being by this time tied on to 
the top of the chaise, the children bade the schoolmaster good-bye 
right wilHngly ; and getting into it, drove gaily down the garden-sweep : 
the quick wheels dashing the hoar-frost and snow from off the dark leaves 
of the evergreens like spray. 

" Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might have withered,'* 
said the Ghost. " But she had a large heart ! " 

" So she had," cried Scrooge. " You're right. I'll not gainsay it, 
Spirit. God forbid ! " 

" She died a woman," said the Ghost, " and had, as I think, children." 
" One child," Scrooge returned. 
" True," said the Ghost. " Your nephew ! " 
Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind ; and answered briefly, " Yes." 
Although they had but that moment left the school behind them, they 
were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city, where shadowy passengers 
passed and repassed ; where shadowy carts and coaches battled for the 
way, and all the strife and tumult of a real city were. It was made plain 
enough, by the dressing of the shops, that here too it was Christmas time 
again ; but it was evening, and the streets were Hghted up. 

The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked Scrooge if 
he knew it.. 

" Know it ! " said Scrooge. " Was I apprenticed here ? " 
They went in. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welsh wig, sitting 
behind such a high desk, that if he had been two inches taller he must 
have knocked his head against the ceiling, Scrooge cried in great 
excitement : 

" Why, it's old Fezziwig ! Bless his heart ; it's Fezziwig alive again ! " 
Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked up at the clock, which 
pointed to the hour of seven. He rubbed his hands ; adjusted his 
capacious waistcoat ; laughed all over himself, from his shoes to his 
organ of benevolence ; and called out in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, 
jovial voice 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 21 

*' Yo ho, there ! Ebenezer ! Dick ! " 

Scrooge's former self, now grown a young man, came briskly in, 
accompanied by his fellow- 'prentice. 

" Dick Wilkins, to be sure ! " said Scrooge to the Ghost. " Bless me, 
yes. There he is. He was very much attached to me, was Dick. Poor 
Dick ! Dear, dear ! " 

" Yo ho, my boys ! " said Fezziwig. " No more work to-night. 
Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer ! Let's have the shutters 
up," cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of his hands, " before a man 
can say Jack Robinson ! " 

You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at it ! They 
charged into the street with the shutters — one, two, three — had 'em 
up in their places — four, five, six — barred 'em and pinned 'em — seven, 
eight, nine — and came back before you could have got to twelve, 
panting hke racehorses. 

" HilH-ho ! " cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from the high desk, 
with wonderful agility. " Clear away, my lads, and let's have lots of 
room here ! Hilli-ho, Dick ! Chirrup, Ebenezer ! " 

Clear away ! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away, 
or couldn't have cleared away, with old Fezziwig looking on. It was done 
in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from 
public life for ever more ; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps 
were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire ; and the warehouse was 
as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ballroom, as you would desire 
to see upon a winter's night. 

In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the lofty desk, and 
made an orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. In came Mrs. 
Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the three Miss Fezziwigs, 
beaming and lovable. In came the six young followers whose hearts 
they broke. In came all the young men and women employed in the 
business. In came the house maid, with her cousin, the baker. In came 
the cook, with her brother's particular friend, the milkman. In came the 
boy from over the way, who was suspected of not having board enough 
from his master ; trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door 
but one, who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress. In 
they all came, one after another ; some shyly, some boldly, some grace- 
fully, some awkwardly, some pushing, some puUing ; in they all came, 
anyhow and everyhow. Away they all went, twenty couple at once, 
hands half round and back again the other way ; down the middle and 
up again ; round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping ; 
old top couple always turning up in the wrong place ; new top couple 
starting off again as soon as they got there ; all top couples at last, and not 
a bottom one to help them. When this result was brought about, old 
Fezziwig, clapping his hands to stop the dance, cried out, " Well done ! " 
and the fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porter, especially 
provided for that purpose. But scorning rest upon his reappearance, 



22 ACHRISTMASCAROL 

he instantly began again, though there were no dancers yet, as if the other 
fiddler had been carried home, exhausted, on a shutter ; and he were a 
bran-new man resolved to beat him out of sight, or perish. 

There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, 
and there was cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of 
Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were 
mince-pies, and plenty of beer. But the great effect of the evening 
came after the Roast and Boiled, when the fiddler (an artful dog, mind ! 
The sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have 
told it him I) struck up " Sir Roger de Coverley." Then old Fezziwig 
stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too ; with a good 
stiif piece of work cut out for them ; three or four and twenty pair of 
partners ; people who were not to be trifled v/ith ; people who would 
dance, and had no notion of walking. 

But if they had been twice as many : ah, four times : old Fezziwig 
would have been a match for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to 
her, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. If 
that's not high praise, tell me higher, and I'll use it. A positive light 
appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. They shone in every part of 
the dance like moons. You couldn't have predicted, at any given time, 
what would become of 'em next. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. 
Fezziwig had gone all through the dance ; advance and retire, hold 
hands with your partner ; bow and curtsey ; corkscrew ; thread-the- 
needle, and back again to your place ; Fezziwig " cut " — cut so deftly, 
that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again 
without a stagger. 

When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke up. Mr. 
and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side the door, and 
shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out, 
wished him or her a Merry Christmas. When everybody had retired 
but the two 'prentices, they did the same to them ; and thus the cheerful 
voices died away, and the lads were left to their beds ; which were under 
a counter in the back shop. 

During the whole of this time, Scrooge had acted like a man out of 
his wits. His heart and soul were in the scene, and with his former self. 
He corroborated everything, remembered everything, enjoyed every- 
thing, and underwent the strangest agitation. It was not until now, 
when the bright faces of his former self and Dick were turned from them, 
that he remembered the Ghost, and became conscious that it was looking 
full upon him, while the light upon its head burnt very clear. 

" A small matter," said the Ghost, " to make these silly folks so full of 
gratitude." 

" Small ! " echoed Scrooge. 

The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, who were 
pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig : and when he had done so, 
said, 



ACHRISTMASCAROL 23 

" Why ? Is it not ? He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal 
money : three or four, perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this 
praise ? " 

" It isn't that," said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking 
unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. " It isn't that, 
Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy ; to make our 
service light or burdensome ; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power 
hes in words and looks ; in things so slight and insignificant that it is 
impossible to add and count 'em up : what then ? The happiness he 
gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune." 

He felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped. 

" What is the matter ? " asked the Ghost. 

" Nothing particular," said Scrooge. 

" Something, I think ? " the Ghost insisted. 

" No," said Scrooge, " No. I should like to be able to say a word or 
two to my clerk just now ! That's all." 

His former self turned down the lamps as he gave utterance to the 
wish ; and Scrooge and the Ghost again stood side by side in the open air. 

" My time grows short," observed the Spirit. " Quick ! " 

This was not addressed to Scrooge, or to any one whom he could see, 
but it produced an immediate effect. For again Scrooge saw himself. 
He was older now ; a man in the prime of life. His face had not the 
harsh and rigid lines of later years ; but it had begun to wear the signs of 
care and avarice. There was an eager, greedy, restless motion in the eye, 
which showed the passion that had taken root, and where the shadow of 
the growing tree would fall. 

He was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young girl in a mourning- 
dress : in whose eyes there were tears, which sparkled in the light that 
shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past. 

" It matters little," she said, softly. " To you, very little. Another 
idol has displaced me ; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to 
come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve." 

" What Idol has displaced you ? " he rejoined. 

" A golden one." 

" This is the even-handed deahng of the world ! " he said. '' There 
is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty ; and there is nothing it 
professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth ! " 

" You fear the world too much," she answered, gently. " All your 
other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of 
its sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by 
one, until the master-passion, Gain, engrosses you. Have I not ? " 

" What then ? " he retorted. " Even if I have grown so much wiser 
what then ? I am not changed towards you." 

She shook her head. 

" Am I ? » 

" Our contract is an old one. It was made when we were both poor 



24 ACHRISTMASCAROL 

and content to be so, until, in good season, we could improve our worldly 
fortune hy our patient industry. You are changed. When it was made, 
you were another man." 

" I was a boy," he said impatiently. 

" Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you are," she 
returned. " I am. That which promised happiness when we were one 
in heart, is fraught with misery now that we are two. How often and 
how keenly I have thought of this, I will not say. It is enou.sjh that I 
have thought of it, and can release you." 

" Have I ever sought release ? " 

" In words. No. Never." 

" In what, then ? " 

" In a changed nature ; in an altered spirit ; in another atmosphere 
of hfe ; another Hope as its great end. In everything that made my 
love of any worth or value in your sight. If this had never been between 
us," said the girl, looking mildly, but with steadiness, upon him ; " tell 
me, would you seek me out and try to win me now .? Ah, no ! " 

He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition, in spite of himself. 
But he said with a struggle, " You think not." 

" I would gladly think otherwise if I could," she answered, " Heaven 
knows ! When / have learned a Truth Hke this, I know how strong 
and irresistible it must be. But if you were free to-day, to-morrow, 
yesterday, can even I believe that you would choose a dowerless girl — 
you who, in your very confidence with her, weigh everything by Gain : 
or, choosing her, if for a moment you were false enough to your one 
guiding principle to do so, do I not know that your repentance and regret 
would surely follow ? I do ; and I release you. With a full heart, for 
the love of him you once were." 

He was about to speak ; but with her head turned from him, she 
resumed. 

" You may — the memory of what is past half makes me hope you will — 
have pain in this. A very, very brief time, and you v^ll dismiss the 
recollection of it, gladly, as an unprofitable dream, from which ithappened 
well that you awoke. Mav you be happy in the life you have chosen." 

She left him, and they parted. 

" Spirit ! " said Scrooge, " show me no more 1 Conduct me home. 
Why do you delight to torture me ? " 

" One shadow more ! " exclaimed the Ghost. 

*' No more ! " cried Scrooge. " No more. I don't wish to see it. 
Show me no more ! " 

But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms, and forced 
him to observe what happened next. 

They were in another scene and place ; a room, not very large or 
handsome, but full of comfort. Near to the winter fire sat a beautiful 
young girl, so like the last that Scrooge beheved it was the same, until 
he saw her, now a comely matron, sitting opposite her daughter. The 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 25 

noise in this room was perfectly tumultuous, for there were more 
children there, than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count ; 
and, unlike the celebrated herd in the poem, they were not forty children 
conducting themselves like one, but every child was conducting itself 
like forty. The consequences were uproarious beyond behef ; but no 
one seemed to care ; on the contrary, the mother and daughter laughed 
heartily, and enjoyed it very much ; and the latter, soon beginning 
to mingle in the sports, got pillaged by the young brigands most ruth- 
lessly. What would I not have given to be one of them ! Though I 
never could have been so rude, no, no ! I wouldn't for the wealth of 
all the world have crushed that braided hair, and torn it down ; and 
for the precious Httle shoe, I wouldn't have plucked it off, God bless 
my soul ! to save my life. As to measuring her waist in sport, as they did, 
bold young brood, I couldn't have done it ; I should have expected my 
arm to have grown round it for a punishment, and never come straight 
again. And yet I should have dearly liked, I own, to have touched her 
Hps ; to have questioned her, that she might have opened them ; to 
have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and never raised a 
blush ; to have let loose waves of hair, an inch of which would be a 
keepsake beyond price : in short, I should have Hked, I do confess, to 
have had the Hghtest license of a child, and yet been man enough to 
know its value. 

But now a knocking at the door was heard, and such a rush immediately 
ensued that she with laughing face and plundered dress was borne towards 
it the centre of a flushed and boisterous group, just in time to greet the 
father, who came home attended by a man laden with Christmas toys 
and presents. Then the shouting and the struggling, and the onslaught 
that was made on the defenceless porter ! The scaling him with chairs 
for ladders to dive into his pockets, despoil him of brown-paper parcels, 
hold on tight by his cravat, hug him round the neck, pommel his back, 
and kick his legs in irrepressible affection ! The shouts of wonder and 
delight with which the development of every package was received ! 
The terrible announcement that the baby had been taken in the act of 
putting a doll's frying-pan into his mouth, and was more than suspected 
of having swallowed a fictitious turkey, glued on a wooden platter ! 
The immense rehef of finding this a false alarm ! The joy, and gratitude, 
and ecstasy ! They are all indescribable ahke. It is enough that by 
degrees the children and their emotions got out of the parlour, and by 
one stair at a time, up to the top of the house ; where they went to bed, 
and so subsided. 

And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever, when the 
master of the house, having his daughter leaning fondly on him, sat down 
with her and her mother at his own fireside ; and when he thought 
that such another creature, quite as graceful and as full of promise, might 
have called him father, and been a spring-time in the haggard winter of 
his life, his sight grew very dim indeed. 



■26 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

" Bell," said the husband, turning to his wife with a smile, " I saw an 
old friend of yours this afternoon." 

" Who was it ? " 

'•' Guess ! " 

" How can I ? Tut, don't I know ? " she added in the same breath, 
laughing as he laughed. " Mr. Scrooge." 

" Mr. Scrooge it was. I passed his office window ; and as it was not 
3hut up, and he had a candle inside, I could scarcely help seeing him. 
His partner lies upon the point of death, I hear ; and there he sat alone. 
Quite alone in the world, I do beheve." 

" Spirit ! " said Scrooge in a broken voice, " remove me from this 
place." 

" I told you these were shadows of the things that have been," said 
the Ghost. " That they are what they are, do not blame me ! " 

" Remove me ! " Scrooge exclaimed, " I cannot bear it ! " 

He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked upon him with a 
face, in which in some strange way there were fragments of all the faces 
it had shown him, wrestled with it. 

" Leave me ! Take me back. Haunt me no longer ! " 

In the struggle, if that can be called a struggle in which the Ghost 
with no visible resistance on its own part was undisturbed by any effort 
of its adversary, Scrooge observed that its light was burning high and 
bright ; and dimly connecting that with its influence over him, he 
seized the extinguisher-cap, and by a sudden action pressed it down upon 
its head. 

The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extinguisher covered its 
whole form ; but though Scrooge pressed it down with all his force, he 
could not hide the hght, which streamed from under it, in an unbroken 
flood upon the ground. 

He was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by an irresistible 
drowsiness ; and further, of being in his own bedroom. He gave the 
cap a parting squeeze, in which his hand relaxed ; and had barely time 
to reel to bed, before he sank into a heavy sleep. 



STAVE THREE : The Second of the Three Sprits 
Awaking in the middle of a prodigiously tough snore, and sitting up in 
bed to get his thoughts together, Scrooge had no occasion to be told 
that the bell was again upon the stroke of One. He felt that he was 
restored to consciousness in the right nick of time, for the especial purpose 
of holding a conference with the second messenger despatched to him 
through Jacob Marley's intervention. But, finding that he turned 
uncomfortably cold when he began to wonder which of his curtains 
this new spectre would draw back, he put them every one aside with his 
own hands, and lying down again, established a sharp look-out all round 
the bed. For he wished to challenge the Spirit on the moment of 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 27 

its appearance, and did not wish to be taken by surprise and made 
nervous. 

Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort, who plume themselves on being 
acquainted with a move or two, and being usually equal to the time-of- 
day, express the wide range of their capacity for adventure by observing 
that they are good for anything from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter ; 
between which opposite extremes, no doubt, there lies a tolerably wide 
and comprehensive range of subjects. Without venturing for Scrooge 
quite as hardily as this, I don't mind calling on you to believe that he 
was ready for a good broad field of strange appearances, and that nothing 
between a baby and rhinoceros would have astonished him very much. 

Now, being prepared for almost anything, he was not by any means 
prepared for nothing ; and, consequently, when the Bell struck One, 
and no shape appeared, he was taken with a violent fit of trembling. 
Five minutes, ten minutes, a quarter of an hour went by, yet nothing 
came. x-\ll this time, he lay upon his bed, the very core and centre of a 
blaze of ruddy light, which streamed upon it when the clock proclaimed 
the hour ; and which, being only light, was more alarming than a dozen 
ghosts, as he was powerless to make out what it meant, or would be at ; 
and was sometimes apprehensive that he might be at that very moment 
an interesting case of spontaneous combustion, without having the con- 
solation of knowing it. At last, however, he began to think — as you or 
I would have thought at first ; for it is always the person not in the pre- 
dicament who knows what ought to have been done in it, and would 
unquestionably have done it too — at last, I say, he began to think that 
the source and secret of this ghostly light might be in the adjoining room 
from whence, on further tracing it, it seemed to shine. This idea taking 
full possession of his mind, he got up softly and shufiled in his slippers to 
the door. 

The moment Scrooge's hand was on the lock, a strange voice called him 
by his name, and bade him enter. He obeyed. 

It was his own room. There was no doubt about that. But it had 
undergone a surprising transformation. The walls and ceiling were so 
hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove, from every part of 
which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, 
mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the hght, as if so many Httle mirrors 
had been scattered there ; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the 
chimney, as that dull petrifaction of a hearth had never known in 
Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or for many and many a winter season gone. 
Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, 
game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths 
of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot 
chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense 
twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim 
with their deHcious steam. In easy state upon this couch, there sat a 
jolly Giant, glorious to see ; who bore a glowirg torch, in shape not 



28 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

unlike Plenty's horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its Hght on Scrooge, 
as he came peeping round the door. 

" Come in ! " exclaimed the Ghost. " Come in and know me better, 
man ! » 

Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before this Spirit. He was 
not the dogged Scrooge he had been ; and though the Spirit's eyes were 
clear and kind, he did not like to meet them, 

" I am the Ghost of Christmas Present," said the Spirit. " Look 
upon me ! " 

Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple deep green 
robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely 
on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be 
warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the 
ample folds of the garment, were also bare ; and on its head it wore 
no other covering than a holly wreath set here and there with shining 
icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free; free as its genial 
face, its sparkhng eye, its open hand, its cheery voice, its unconstrained 
demeanour, and its joyful air. Girded round its middle was an antique 
scabbard ; but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up 
with rust. 

" You have never seen the like of me before ! " exclaimed the Spirit. 

" Never," Scrooge made answer to it. 

" Have never walked forth with the younger members of my family ; 
meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers born in these later 
years ? " pursued the Phantom. 

" I don't think I have," said Scrooge. " I am afraid I have not. 
Have you had many brothers. Spirit ? " 

" More than eighteen hundred," said the Ghost. 

" A tremendous family to provide for ! " muttered Scrooge. 

The Ghost of Christmas Present rose. 

" Spirit," said Scrooge submissively, " conduct me where you will. 
I went forth last night on compulsion, and I learnt a lesson which is 
working now. To-night, if you have aught to teach me, let me profit 
by it." 

" Touch my robe ! " 

Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast. 

Holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, 
meat, pigs, sausages, oysters, pies, puddings, fruit, and punch, all vanished 
instantly. So did the room, the fire, the ruddy glow, the hour of night, 
and they stood in the city streets on Christmas morning, where (for the 
weather was severe) the people made a rough, but brisk and not un- 
pleasant kind of music, in scraping the snow from the pavement in front 
of their dwellings, and from the tops of their houses : whence it was mad 
delight to the boys to see it come plumping down into the road below, 
and splitting into artificial little snow-storms. 

The house fronts looked black enough, and the windows blacker, 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 29 

contrasting with the smooth white sheet of snow upon the roofs, and 
with the dirtier snow upon the ground ; which last deposit had been 
ploughed up in deep furrows by the heavy wheels of carts and waggons ; 
furrows that crossed and re-crossed each other hundreds of times where 
the great streets branched off, and made intricate channels, hard to trace, 
in the thick yellow mud and icy water. The sky was gloomy, and the 
shortest streets were choked up with a dingy mist, half thawed, half 
frozen, whose heavier particles descended in a shower of sooty atoms, 
as if all the chimneys in Great Britain had, by one consent, caught fire, 
and were blazing away to their dear hearts' content. There was nothing 
very cheerful in the climate or the town, and yet was there an air of 
cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer air and brightest summer 
sun might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain. 

For, the people who were shovelHng away on the house-tops were 
jovial and full of glee ; calHrg out to one another from the parapets, 
and now and then exchanging a facetious snowball — better-natured 
missile far than many a wordy jest — laughing heartily if it went right 
and not less heartily if it went wrong. The poulterers' shops were still 
half open, and the fruiterers' were radiant in their glory. There were 
great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped hke the waistcoats 
of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbhng out into the 
street in their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy, brown-faced 
broad-girthed Spanish Onions, shining in the fatness of their growth 
like Spanish Friars ; and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness 
at the girls as they went by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up 
mistletoe. There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming 
pyramids ; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers' 
benevolence, to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's mouths 
might water gratis as they passed ; there were piles of filberts, mossy and 
brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among the woods, and 
pleasant shufflings ankle deep through withered leaves ; there were 
Norfolk Biffins, squab, and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges 
and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently 
entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten 
after dinner. The very gold and silver fish, set forth among these choice 
fruits in a bowl, though members of a dull and stagnant-blooded race, 
appeared to know that there was something going on ; and, to a fish, 
went gasping round and round their httle world in slow and passionless 
excitement. 

The Grocers' ! oh the Grocers' ! nearly closed, with perhaps two 
shutters down, or one ; but through those gaps such ghmpses ! It 
was not alone that the scales descending on the counter made a merry 
sound, or that the twine and roller parted company so briskly, or that 
the canisters were rattled up and down like jugghng tricks, or even that 
the blended scents of tea and coffee were so grateful to the nose, or even 
that the raisins were so plentiful and rare, the almonds so extremely 



30 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

white, the sticks of cinnamon so long and straight, the other spices so 
dehcious, the candied fruits so caked and spotted with molten sugar as 
to make the coldest lookers-on feel faint and subsequently bilious. 
Nor was it that the figs were moist and pulpy, or that the French plums 
blushed in modest tartness from their highly-decorated boxes, or that 
everything was good to eat and in its Christmas dress : but the customers 
were all so hurried and so eager in the hopeful promise of the day, that 
they tumbled up against each other at the door, clashing their wicker 
baskets wildly, and left their purchases upon the counter, and came 
running back to fetch them, and committed hundreds of the like mistakes 
in the best humour possible ; while the Grocer and his people were so 
frank and fresh that the polished hearts with which they fastened their 
aprons behind might have been their own, worn outside for general 
inspection, and for Christmas daws to peck at if they chose. 

But soon the steeples called good people all, to church and chapel, 
and away they came, flocking through the streets in their best clothes, 
and with their gayest faces. And at the same time there emerged from 
scores of by-streets, lanes, and nameless turnings, innumerable people, 
carrying their dinners to the bakers' shops. The sight of these poor 
revellers appeared to interest the Spirit very much, for he stood with 
Scrooge beside him in a baker's doorway, and taking off the covers as 
their bearers passed, sprinkled incense on their dinners from his torch. 
And it was a very uncommon kind of torch, for once or twice when there 
were angry words between some dinner-carriers who had jostled with 
each other, he shed a few drops of water on them from it, and their good 
humour was restored directly. For they said, it was a shame to quarrel 
upon Christmas Day. And so it was ! God love it ! so it was ! 

In time the bells ceased, and the bakers were shut up ; and yet there 
was a genial shadowing forth of all these dinners and the progress of their 
cooking, in the thawed blotch of wet above each baker's oven ; where 
the pavements smoked as if its stones were cooking too. 

" Is there a pecuHar flavour in what you sprinkle from your torch ? " 
asked Scrooge. 

" There is. My own." 

" Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day ? " asked Scrooge. 

" To any kindly given. To a poor one most." 

" Why to a poor one most ? " asked Scrooge. 

" Because it needs it most." 

" Spirit," said Scrooge, after a moment's thought, " I wonder you, of 
all the beings in the many worlds about us, should desire to cramp these 
people's opportunities of innocent enjoyment." 

" I ! " cried the Spirit. 

" You would deprive them of their means of dining every seventh 
day, often the only day on which they can be said to dine at all," said 
Scrooge. " Wouldn't you ? " 

" I ! " cried the Spirit. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 31 

" You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day ? " said Scrooge.. 
" And it comes to the same thing." 

" / seek ! " exclaimed the Spirit. 

" Forgive me i£ I am wrong. It has been done in your name, or at 
least in that of your family," said Scrooge. 

" There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, " who 
lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, 
hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to 
us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, 
and charge their doings on themselves, not us." 

Scrooge promised that he would ; and they went on, invisible, as they 
had been before, into the suburbs of the town. It was a remarkable 
quality of the Ghost (which Scrooge had observed at the baker's), that 
notwithstanding his gigantic size, he could accommodate himself to 
any place with ease ; and that he stood beneath a low roof quite as 
gracefully and like a supernatural creature, as it was possible he could 
have done in any lofty hall. 

And perhaps it was the pleasure the good Spirit had in showing off 
this power of his, or else it was his own kind, generous, hearty nature, and 
his sympathy with all poor men, that led him straight to Scrooge's clerk's ; 
for there he went, and took Scrooge with him, holding to his robe ; and 
on the threshold of the door the Spirit smiled, and stopped to bless 
Bob Cratchit's dwelhng with the sprinkHngs of his torch. Think of 
that ! Bob had but fifteen " Bob " a-week himself ; he pocketed on 
Saturdays but fifteen copies of his Christian name ; and yet the Ghost 
of Christmas Present blessed his four-roomed house ! 

Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, Cratchit's wife, dressed out but poorly 
in a twice-turned gown, but brave in ribbons, which are cheap and make 
a goodly show for sixpence ; and she laid the cloth, assisted by Belinda 
Cratchit, second of her daughters, also brave in ribbons ; while Master 
Peter Cratchit plunged a fork into the saucepan of potatoes, and getting 
the corners of his monstrous shirt collar (Bob's private property, con- 
ferred upon his son and heir in honour of the day) into his mouth, rejoiced 
to find himself so gallantly attired, and yearned to show his linen in the 
fashionable Parks. And now two smaller Cratchits, boy and girl, came 
tearing in, screaming that outside the baker's they had smelt the goose, 
and known it for their own ; and basking in luxurious thoughts of 
sage-and-onion, these young Cratchits danced about the table, and 
exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the skies, while he (not proud, 
although his collars nearly choked him) blew the fire, until the slow 
potatoes bubbling up, knocked loudly at the saucepan-lid to be let out 
and peeled. 

" What has ever got your precious father then ? " said Mrs. Cratchit,. 
" And your brother. Tiny Tim ! And Martha warn't as late last 
Christmas Day by half-an-hour ! " 

" Here's Martha, mother ! " said a girl, appearing as she spoke. 



32 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

" Here's Martha, mother ! " cried the two young Cratchits. " Hurrah ! 
There's such a goose, Martha ! " 

" Why, bless your heart ahve, my dear, how late you are ! " said Mrs. 
Cratchit, kissing her a dozen times, and taking off her shawl and bonnet 
for her with officious zeal. 

" We'd a deal o£ work to finish up last night," replied the girl, " and 
had to clear away this morning, mother ! " 

" Well ! Never mind so long as you are come," said Mrs. Cratchit. 
" Sit ye down before the fire, my dear, and have a warm. Lord bless ye ! " 

" No, no ! There's father coming," cried the two young Cratchits, 
who were everywhere at once. " Hide, Martha, hide ! " 

So Martha hid herself, and in came Httle Bob, the father, with at least 
three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe, hanging down before him ; 
and his threadbare clothes darned up and brushed, to look seasonable ; 
and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. Alas for Tiny Tim, he bore a httle 
crutch, and had his Umbs supported by an iron frame ! 

" Why, where's our Martha ? " cried Bob Cratchit, looking round. 

" Not coming," said Mrs. Cratchit. 

" Not coming ! " said Bob, with a sudden declension in his high 
spirits ; for he had been Tim's blood horse all the way from church, 
and had come home rampant. " Not coming upon Christmas Day ! " 

Martha didn't like to see him disappointed, if it were only in joke ; so 
she came out prematurely from behind the closet door, and ran into his 
arms, while the two young Cratchits hustled Tiny Tim, and bore him 
off into the wash-house, that he might hear the pudding singing in the 
copper. 

" And how did Httle Tim behave ? " asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she 
had rallied Bob on his credulity, and Bob had hugged his daughter to his 
heart's content. 

" As good as gold," said Bob, " and better. Somehow he gets 
thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things 
you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people 
saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant 
to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk 
and blind men see." 

Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them this, and trembled more 
when he said that Tiny Tim was growing strong and hearty. 

His active Httle crutch was heard upon the floor, and back came Tiny 
Tim before another word was spoken, escorted by his brother and sister 
to his stool before the fire ; and while Bob, turning up his cuffs — as if, 
poor fellow, they were capable of being made more shabby — compounded 
some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it round and 
round and put it on the hob to simmer ; Master Peter, and the two 
ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose, with which they soon 
returned in high procession. 

Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 33 

of all birds ; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a 
matter of course — and in truth it was something very Hke it in that 
house. Mrs. Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little 
saucepan) hissing hot ; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible 
vigour ; Miss BeHnda sweetened up the apple sauce ; Martha dusted 
the hot plates ; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the 
table ; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting 
themselves, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into 
their mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before their turn came to 
be helped. At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was 
succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratchit, looking slowly all along 
the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast ; but when she did, 
and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur 
of delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the 
two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and 
feebly cried Hurrah ! 

There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe there ever 
was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size, and cheapness, 
were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by the apple 
sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole 
family ; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying 
one small atom of a bone upon the dish) they hadn't ate it all at last ! 
Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in par- 
ticular were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows ! But now, the 
plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone — 
too nervous to bear witnesses — to take the pudding up and bring it in. 

Suppose it should not be done enough ! Suppose it should break in 
turning out ! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the 
backyard, and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose — a suppo- 
sition at which the two young Cratchits became livid ! All sorts of 
horrors were supposed. 

Hallo ! A great deal of steam ! The pudding was out of the copper. 
A smell like a washing-day ! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating- 
house and a pastrycook's next door to each other, with a laundress's next 
door to that ! That was the pudding ! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit 
entered — flushed, but smiling proudly — with the pudding like a speckled 
cannon-ball so hard and firm blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited 
brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top. 

Oh, a wonderful pudding ! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that 
he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their 
marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she 
would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. 
Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought 
it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been 
flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a 
thing. 

CC. B 



34 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth 
swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted, and 
considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a 
shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew 
round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a 
one ; and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass. 
Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle. 

These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden 
goblets would have done ; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, 
while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob 
proposed : 

" A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us ! " 

Which all the family re-echoed. 

" God bless us every one ! " said Tiny Tim, the last of all. 

He sat very close to his father's side upon his httle stool. Bob held 
his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child, and wished to keep 
him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken from him. 

" Spirit ! " said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, 
" tell me if Tiny Tim will live." 

" I see a vacant seat," replied the Ghost, " in the poor chimney- 
corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these 
shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die." 

" No, no," said Scrooge. " Oh no, kind Spirit ! say he will be spared." 

" If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my 
race," returned the Ghost, " will find him here. What then ? If he 
be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population." 

Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and 
was overcome with penitence and grief. 

*'Man," said the Ghost, "if man you be in heart, not adamant, 
forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus 
is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall 
die ? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless 
and less fit to live than milhons hke this poor man's child. Oh God ! 
to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among 
his hungry brothers in the dust ! " 

Scrooge bent before the Ghost's rebuke, and trembHng cast his eyes 
upon the ground. But he raised them speedily, on hearing his own 
name. 

" Mr. Scrooge ! " said Bob ; " I'll give you Mr. Scrooge, the Founder 
of the Feast ! " 

" The Founder of the Feast indeed ! " cried Mrs. Cratchit, reddening. 
" I wish I had him here. I'd give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, 
and I hope he'd have a good appetite for it." 

" My dear," said Bob, " the children ! Christmas Day." 

" It should be Christmas Day, I am sure," said she, " on which one 
drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as Mr. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 35 

Scrooge. You know he is, Robert ! Nobody knows it better than you 
do, poor fellow ! " 

" My dear," was Bob's mild answer, " Christmas Day." 

" I'll drink his health for your sake and the Day's," said Mrs. Cratchit, 
" not for his. Long life to him ! A Merry Christmas and a Happy 
New Year ! He'll be very merry and very happy, I have no doubt ! " 

The children drank the toast after her. It was the first of their 
proceedings which had no heartiness in it. Tiny Tim drank it last of 
all, but he didn't care twopence for it. Scrooge was the Ogre of the 
family. The mention of his name cast a dark shadow on the party, which 
was not dispelled for full five minutes. 

After it had passed away, they were ten times merrier than before, 
from the mere rehef of Scrooge the Baleful being done with. Bob 
Cratchit told them how he had a situation in his eye for Master Peter, 
which would bring in, if obtained, full five-and-sixpence weekly. The 
two young Cratchits laughed tremendously at the idea of Peter's being 
a man of business ; and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at the fire 
from between his collars, as if he were dehberating what particular 
investments he should favour when he came into the receipt of that 
bewildering income. Martha, who was a poor apprentice at a milliner's, 
then told them what kind of work she had to do, and how many hours 
she worked at a stretch, and how she meant to lie abed to-morrow 
morning for a good long rest ; to-morrow being a holiday she passed at 
home. Also how she had seen a countess and a lord some days before, 
and how the lord " was much about as tall as Peter ; " at which Peter 
pulled up his collars so high that you couldn't have seen his head if you 
had been there. All this time the chestnuts and the jug went round and 
round ; and by-and-bye they had a song, about a lost child travelling in 
the snow, from Tiny Tim, who had a plaintive little voice, and sang It 
very well indeed. 

There was nothing of high mark in this. They were not a handsome 
family ; they were not well dressed ; their shoes were far from being 
water-proof ; their clothes were scanty ; and Peter might have known, 
and very likely did, the inside of a pawnbroker's. But they were happy, 
grateful, pleased with one another, and contented with the time ; and 
when they faded, and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings of the 
Spirit's torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon them, and especially 
on Tiny Tim, until the last. 

By this time it was getting dark, and snowing pretty heavily ; and as 
Scrooge and the Spirit went along the streets, the brightness of the 
roaring fires In kitchens, parlours, and all sorts of rooms, was wonderful. 
Here, the flickering of the blaze showed preparations for a cosy dinner, 
with hot plates baking through and through before the fire, and deep red 
curtains, ready to be drawn to shut out cold and darkness. There, all 
the children of the house were running out into the snow to meet their 
married sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, and be the first to greet 



36 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

them. Here, again, were shadows on the window-blind of guests 
assembHng ; and there a group of handsome girls, all hooded and fur- 
booted, and all chattering at once, tripped lightly off to some near 
neighbour's house ; where, woe upon the single man who saw them enter 
— artful witches ; well they knew it — in a glow ! 

But if you had judged from the numbers of people on their way to 
friendly gatherings, you might have thought that no one was at home 
to give them welcome when they got there, instead of every house 
expecting company, and pihng up its fires half-chimney high. Blessings 
on it, how the Ghost exulted ! How it bared its breadth of breast, and 
opened its capacious palm, and floated on, out-pouring, with a generous 
hand, its bright and harmless mirth on everything within its reach ! 
The very lamphghter, who ran on before dotting the dusky street with 
specks of Hght, and who was dressed to spend the evening somewhere, 
laughed out loudly as the Spirit passed : though little kenned the lamp- 
lighter that he had any company but Christmas ! 

And now, without a word of warning from the Ghost, they stood upon 
a bleak and desert moor, where monstrous masses of rude stone were 
cast about, as though it were the burial-place of giants ; and water 
spread itself wheresoever it hsted, or would have done so, but for the 
frost that held it prisoner ; and nothing grew but moss and furze, and 
coarse, rank grass. Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak 
of fiery red, which glared upon the desolation for an instant, hke a sullen 
eye, and frowning lower, lower, lower yet, was lost in the thick gloom of 
darkest night. 

" What place is this ? " asked Scrooge. 

" A place where Miners live, who labour in the bowels of the earth," 
returned the Spirit. " But they know me. See ! " 

A light shone from the window of a hut, and swiftly they advanced 
towards it. Passing through the wall of mud and stone, they found a 
cheerful company assembled round a glowing fire. An old, old man and 
woman, with their children and their children's children, and another 
generation beyond that, all decked out gaily in their hohday attire. 
The old man, in a voice that seldom rose above the howling of the wind 
upon the barren waste, was singing them a Christmas song ; it had been 
a very old song when he was a boy ; and from time to time they all 
joined in the chorus. So surely as they raised their voices, the old man 
got quite blithe and loud ; and so surely as they stopped, his vigour sank 
again. 

The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold his robe, and 
passing on above the moor, sped whither ? Not to sea .? To sea. 
To Scrooge's horror, looking back, he saw the last of the land, a frightful 
range of rocks, behind them ; and his ears were deafened by the thun- 
dering of water, as it rolled, and roared, and raged among the dreadful 
caverns it had worn, and fiercely tried to undermine the earth. 

Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some league or so from shore. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 37 

on which the waters chafed and dashed, the wild year through, there 
stood a soHtary lighthouse. Great heaps of seaweed clung to its base, 
and storm-birds — born of the wind one might suppose, as sea-weed of 
the water — rose and fell about it, like the waves they skimmed. 

But even here, two men who watched the light had made a fire, that 
through the loophole in the thick stone wall shed out a ray of brightness 
on the awful sea. Joining their horny hands over the rough table at 
which they sat, they wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of 
grog ; and one of them, the elder, too, with his face all damaged and 
scarred with hard weather, as the figure-head of an old ship might be : 
struck up a sturdy song that was like a Gale in itself. 

Again the Ghost sped on, above the black and heaving sea — on, on — 
until, being far away, as he told Scrooge, from any shore, they lighted 
on a ship. They stood beside the helmsman at the wheel, the lookout 
in the bow, the officers who had the watch ; dark, ghostly figures in 
their several stations ; but every man among them hummed a Christmas 
tune, or had a Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath to his 
companion of some bygone Christmas Day, with homeward hopes 
belonging to it. And every man on board, waking or sleeping, good 
or bad, had had a kinder word for another on that day than on any day in 
the year ; and had shared to some extent in its festivities ; and had 
remembered those he cared for at a distance, and had known that they 
delighted to remember him. 

It was a great surprise to Scrooge, while listening to the moaning of 
the wind, and thinking what a solemn thing it was to move on through 
the lonely darkness over an unknown abyss, whose depths were secrets 
as profound as Death : it was a great surprise to Scrooge, while thus 
engaged, to hear a hearty laugh. It was a much greater surprise to 
Scrooge to recognise it as his own nephew's, and to find himself in a 
bright, dry, gleaming room, with the Spirit standing smihng by his side, 
and looking at that same nephew with approving affabihty. 

" Ha, ha ! " laughed Scrooge's nephew. " Ha, ha, ha ! " 

If you should happen, by any unlikely chance, to know a man more 
blest in a laugh than Scrooge's nephew, all I can say is, I should like to 
know him too. Introduce him to me, and I'll cultivate his acquain- 
tance. 

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there 
is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so 
irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour. When Scrooge's 
nephew laughed in this way : holding his sides, rolling his head, and 
twisting his face into the most extravagant contortions : Scrooge's 
niece, by marriage, laughed as heartily as he. And their assembled 
friends being not a bit behindhand, roared out, lustily. 

" Ha, ha ! Ha, ha, ha, ha ! " 

" He said that Christmas was a humbug, as I live ! " cried Scrooge's 
nephew. " He believed it too ! " 



38 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

" More shame for him, Fred ! " said Scrooge's niece, indignantly. 
Bless those women ; they never do anything by halves. They are always 
in earnest. 

She was very pretty : exceedingly pretty. With a dimpled, surprised- 
looking, capital face ; a ripe little mouth, that seemed made to be kissed — 
as no doubt it was ; all kinds of good little dots about her chin, that 
melted into one another when she laughed ; and the sunniest pair of 
eyes you ever saw in any little creature's head. Altogether she was 
what you would have called provoking, you know ; but satisfactory, too. 
Oh, perfectly satisfactory ! 

" He's a comical old fellow," said Scrooge's nephew, " that's the 
truth ; and not so pleasant as he might be. However, his offences carry 
their own punishment, and I have nothing to say against him." 

" I'm sure he is very rich, Fred," hinted Scrooge's niece. " At least 
you always tell me so." 

" What of that, my dear ! " said Scrooge's nephew. " His wealth 
is of no use to him. He don't do any good with it. He don't make 
himself comfortable with it. He hasn't the satisfaction of thinking — 
ha, ha, ha ! — that he is ever going to benefit Us with it." 

" I have no patience with him," observed Scrooge's niece. Scrooge's 
niece's sisters, and all the other ladies, expressed the same opinion. 

" Oh, I have ! " said Scrooge's nephew. " I am sorry for him ; I 
couldn't be angry with him if I tried. Who suffers by his ill whims ? 
Himself, always. Here, he takes it into his head to dislike us, and he 
won't come and dine with us. What's the consequence ! He don't 
lose much of a dinner " 

" Indeed, I think he loses a very good dinner," interrupted Scrooge's 
niece. Everybody else said the same, and they must be allowed to have 
been competent judges, because they had just had dinner : and, with 
the dessert upon the table, were clustered round the fire, by lampHght. 

" Well ! I'm very glad to hear it," said Scrooge's nephew, " because 
I haven't any great faith in these young housekeepers. What do yo.v 
say. Topper ? " 

Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of Scrooge's niece's sisters, 
for he answered that a bachelor was a wretched outcast, who had no right 
to express an opinion on the subject. Whereat Scrooge's niece's sister — 
the plump one with the lace tucker: not the one with the roses — blushed. 

" Do go on, Fred," said Scrooge's niece, clapping her hands. " He 
never finishes what he begins to say ! He is such a ridiculous fellow !" 

Scrooge's nephew revelled in another laugh, and as it was impossible 
to keep the infection off ; though the plump sister tried hard to do it 
with aromatic vinegar ; his example was unanimously followed. 

" I was only going to say," said Scrooge's nephew, " that the conse- 
quence of his taking a disHke to us, and not making merry with us, is, 
as I think, that he loses some pleasant moments, which could do him no 
harm. I am sure he loses pleasanter companions than he can find in 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 39 

his own thoughts, either in his mouldy old office, or his dusty chambers. 
I mean to give him the same chance every year, whether he likes it or 
not, for I pity him. He may rail at Christmas till he dies, but he can't 
help thinking better of it — I defy him — if he finds me going there, in 
good temper, year after year, and saying ' Uncle Scrooge, how are you ? ' 
If it only puts him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds, thais 
something ; and I think I shook him yesterday." 

It was their turn to laugh now at the notion of his shaking Scrooge. 
But being thoroughly good-natured, and not much caring what they 
laughed at, so that they laughed at any rate, he encouraged them in 
their merriment, and passed the bottle joyously. 

After tea, they had some music. For they were a musical family, 
and knew what they were about, when they sang a Glee or Catch, I cm 
assure you : especially Topper, who could growl away in the bass like 
a good one, and never swell the large veins in his forehead, or get red in 
the face over it. Scrooge's niece played well upon the harp ; and played 
among other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing : you might learn 
to whistle it in two minutes), which had been familiar to the child who 
fetched Scrooge from the l5oarding-school, as he had been reminded 
by the Ghost of Christmas Past. When this strain of music sounded, alj 
the things that Ghost had shown him, came upon his mind ; he softened 
more and more ; and thought that if he could have listened to it often, 
years ago, he might have cultivated the kindnesses of life for his own 
happiness with his own hands, without resorting to the sexton's spade 
that buried Jacob Marley. 

But they didn't devote the whole evening to music. After a while 
they played at forfeits ; for it is good to be children sometimes, and 
never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child 
himself. Stop ! There was first a game at bhnd-man's buff. Of course 
there was. And I no more beheve Topper was really blind than I beheve 
he had eyes in his boots. My opinion is, that it was a done thing between 
him and Scrooge's nephew : and that the Ghost of Christmas Present 
knew it. The way he went after that plump sister in the lace tucker, was 
an outrage on the creduHty of human nature. Knocking down the fire- 
irons, tumbling over the chairs, bumping up against the piano, smother ■ 
ing himself among the curtains, wherever she went, there went he. He 
always knew where the plump sister was. He wouldn't catch anybody 
else. If you had fallen up against him, as some of them did, and stood 
there ; he would have made a feint of endeavouring to seize you, which 
would have been an affront to your understanding ; and would instantly 
have sidled off in the direction of the plump sister. She often cried 
out that it wasn't fair ; and it really was not. But when at last, he caught 
her ; when, in spite of all her silken rustlings, and her rapid flutterings 
past him, he got her into a corner whence there was no escape ; then his 
conduct was the most execrable. For his pretending not to know her ; 
his pretending that it was necessary to touch her headdress, and further 



40 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

to assure himself of her identity hy pressing a certain ring upon her 
finger, and a certain chain about her neck ; was vile, monstrous ! No 
doubt she told him her opinion of it, when, another blind man being in 
office, they were so very confidential together, behind the curtains. 

Scrooge's niece was not one of the blind-man's buff party, but was made 
comfortable with a large chair and a footstool, in a snug corner, where 
the Ghost and Scrooge were close behind her. But she joined in the 
forfeits, and loved her love to admiration with all the letters of the 
alphabet. Likewise at the game of How, When, and Where, she was 
very great, and to the secret joy of Scrooge's nephew, beat her sisters 
hollow : though they were sharp girls too, as Topper could have told 
you. There might have been twenty people there, young and old, 
but they all played, and so did Scrooge ; for, wholly forgetting in the 
interest he had in what was going on, that his voice made no sound in 
their ears, he sometimes came out with his guess quite loud, and very 
often guessed quite right, too ; for the sharpest needle, best Whitechapel, 
warranted not to cut in the eye, was not sharper than Scrooge : blunt as 
he took it in his head to be. 

The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in this mood, and looked 
upon him with such favour, that he begged like a boy to be allowed to 
stay until the guests departed. But this the Spirit said could not be 
done. 

" Here is a new game," said Scrooge. " One half-hour. Spirit, only 
one ! " 

It is a game called Yes and No, where Scrooge's nephew had to think 
of something, and the rest must find out what ; he only answering to 
their questions yes or no, as the case was. The brisk fire of questioning 
to which he was exposed, elicited from him that he was thinking of an 
animal, a live animal, rather a disagreeable animal, a savage animal, an 
animal that growled and grunted sometimes, and talked sometimes, and 
lived in London, and walked about the streets, and wasn't made a show 
of, and wasn't led by anybody, and didn't live in a menagerie, and was 
never killed in a market, and was not a horse, or an ass, or a cow, or a bull, 
or a tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a bear. At every fresh question 
that was put to him, this nephew burst into a fresh roar of laughter ; and 
was so inexpressibly tickled, that he was obliged to get up oflt the sofa and 
stamp. At last the plump sister, falling into a similar state, cried out : 

" I have found it out. I know what it is, Fred ! I know what it is ! " 

" What is it ? " cried Fred. 

" It's your Uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge ! " 

Which it certainly was. Admiration was the universal sentiment, 
though some objected that the reply to " Is it a bear ? " ought to have 
been " Yes ; " inasmuch as an answer in the negative was sufficient to 
have diverted their thoughts from Mr. Scrooge, supposing they had 
ever had any tendency that way. 

" He has given us plenty of merriment, I am sure," said Fred, " and 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 41 

it would be ungrateful not to drink his health. Here is a glass of mulled 
wine ready to our hand at the moment ; and I say, ' Uncle Scrooge ! ' " 

" Well ! Uncle Scrooge ! " they cried. 

" A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man, whatever 
he is ! " said Scrooge's nephew. " He wouldn't take it from me, but 
may he have it, nevertheless. Uncle Scrooge ! " 

Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light of heart, 
that he would have pledged the unconscious company in return, and 
thanked them in an inaudible speech, if the Ghost had given him time. 
But the whole scene passed off in the breath of the last word spoken by 
his nephew ; and he and the Spirit were again upon their travels. 

Much they saw, and far they went, and many homes they visited, but 
always with a happy end. The Spirit stood beside sick-beds, and they 
were cheerful ; on foreign lands, and they were close at home ; by 
struggling men, and they were patient in their greater hope ; by poverty, 
and it was rich. In almshouse, hospital, and jail, in misery's every 
refuge, where vain man in his little brief authority had not made fast the 
door, and barred the Spirit out, he left his blessing, and taught Scrooge 
his precepts. 

It was a long night, if it were only a night ; but Scrooge had his doubts 
of this, because the Christmas Hohdays appeared to be condensed into 
the space of time they passed together. It was strange, too, that while 
Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, 
clearly older. Scrooge had observed this change, but never spoke of it, 
until they left a children's Twelfth Night party, when, looking at the 
Spirit as they stood together in an open place, he noticed that its hair was 
grey. 

" Are spirits' lives so short ? " asked Scrooge. 

" My life upon this globe is very brief," replied the Ghost. " It ends 
to-night." 

" To-night ! " cried Scrooge. 

" To-night at midnight. Hark ! The time is drawing near." 

The chimes were ringing the three-quarters past eleven at that 
moment. 

" Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask," said Scrooge, looking 
intently at the Spirit's robe, " but I see something strange, and not 
belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a 
claw ! " 

" It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it," was the Spirit's 
sorrowful reply. " Look here." 

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children ; wretched, 
abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and 
clung upon the outside of its garment. 

" Oh, Man ! look here. Look, look, down here ! " exclaimed the 
Ghost. 

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowHng, wolfish ; 

cc. b' 



42 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have 
filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a 
stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted 
them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat 
enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no 
degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the 
mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread. 

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this 
way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked 
themselves, rather then be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.. 

" Spirit ! are they yours ? " Scrooge could say no more. 

" They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. " And 
they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. 
This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most 
of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, 
unless the writing be erased. Deny it ! " cried the Spirit, stretching 
out its hand towards the city. " Slander those who tell it ye ! Admit 
it for your factious purposes, and make it worse ! And bide the end ! " 

" Have they no refuge or resource ? " cried Scrooge. 

" Are there no prisons ? " said the Spirit, turning on him for the last 
time with his own words. " Are there no workhouses .? " 

The bell struck twelve. 

Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. As the last 
stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob 
Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and 
hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him. 



STAVE FOUR : The Last of the Spirits 

The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came near 
him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee ; for in the very air through which 
this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. 

It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its 
face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. 
But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the 
night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded. 

He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside him, and that 
its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread. He knew no 
more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved. 

" I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come ? " 
said Scrooge. 

The Spirit answered not, but pointed downward with its hand. 

" You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not 
happened, but will happen in the time before us," Scrooge pursued. " Is 
that so. Spirit ? " 

The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an instant in 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 43 

its folds, as if the Spirit had inclined its head. That was the only answer 
he received. 

Although well used to ghostly company by this time, Scrooge feared 
the silent shape so much that his legs trembled beneath him, and he 
found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. The 
Spirit paused a moment, as observing his condition, and giving him time 
to recover. 

But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled him with a vague 
uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud there were 
ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched 
his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one 
great heap of black. 

" Ghost of the Future ! " he exclaimed, " I fear you more than any 
Spectre I have seen. But, as I know your purpose is to do me good, and 
as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to 
bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak 
to me f " 

It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight before them. 

" Lead on ! " said Scrooge. " Lead on ! The night is waning fast, 
and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on. Spirit ! " 

The Phantom moved away as it had come towards him. Scrooge 
followed in the shadow of its dress, which bore him up, he thought, and 
carried him along. 

They scarcely seemed to enter the city ; for the city rather seemed 
to spring up about them, and encompass them of its own act. But there 
they were, in the heart of it ; on 'Change, amongst the merchants ; who 
hurried up and down, and chinked the money in their pockets, and con- 
versed in groups, and looked at their watches, and trifled thoughtfully with 
their great gold seals ; and so forth, as Scrooge had seen them often. 

The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business men. Observing 
that the hand was pointed to them, Scrooge advanced to hsten to their 
talk. 

" No," said a great fat man with a monstrous chin," I don't know much 
about it, either way. I only know he's dead." 

" When did he die ? " inquired another. 

" Last night, I believe." 

" Why, what was the matter with him ? " asked a third, taking a vast 
quantity of snuff out of a very large snuff-box. " I thought he'd never 
die." 

" God knows," said the first, with a yawn. 

" What has he done with his money ? " asked a red-faced gentleman 
with a pendulous excrescence on the end of his nose, that shook like the 
gills of a turkey-cock. 

" I haven't heard," said the man with the large chin, yawning again. 
" Left it to his Company, perhaps. He hasn't left it to me. That's all 
I know." 



44 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

This pleasantry was received with a general laugh. 

" It's likely to be a very cheap funeral," said the same speaker ; " for 
upon my Hfe I don't know of anybody to go to it. Suppose we make up 
a party and volunteer ? " 

" I don't mind going if a lunch is provided," observed the gentleman 
with the excrescence on his nose. " But I must be fed, if I make one." 

Another laugh. 

" Well, I am the most disinterested among you, after all," said the 
first speaker, " for I never wear black gloves, and I never eat lunch. But 
I'll offer to go, if anybody else will. When I come to think of it, I'm 
not at all sure that I wasn't his most particular friend ; for we used to 
stop and speak whenever we met. Bye, bye ! " 

Speakers and listeners strolled away, and mixed with other groups. 
Scrooge knew the men, and looked towards the Spirit for an explanation. 

The Phantom glided on into a street. Its finger pointed to two 
persons meeting. Scrooge listened again, thinking that the explanation 
might lie here. 

He knew these men, also, perfectly. They were men of business : 
very wealthy, and of great importance. He had made a point always of 
standing well in their esteem : in a business point of view, that is ; 
strictly in a business point of view. 

" How are you ? " said one. 

" How are you f " returned the other. 

" Well ! " said the first. " Old Scratch has got his own at last, hey.? " 

" So I am told," returned the second. " Cold, isn't it ? " 

" Seasonable for Christmas time. You're not a skater. I suppose ? " 

" No. No. Something else to think of. Good morning ' " 

Not another word. That was their meeting, their conversation, and 
their parting. 

Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that the Spirit should 
attach importance to conversations apparently so trivial ; but feeling 
assured that they must have some hidden purpose, he set himself to 
consider what it was likely to be. They could scarcely be supposed to have 
any bearing on the death of Jacob, his old partner, for that was Past, and 
this Ghost's province was the Future. Nor could he think of any one 
immediately connected with himself, to whom he could apply them. 
But nothing doubting that to whomsoever they applied they had some 
latent moral for his own improvement, he resolved to treasure up every 
word he heard, and everything he saw ; and especially to observe the 
shadow of himself when it appeared. For he had an expectation that 
the conduct of his future self would give him the clue he missed, and 
would render the solution of these riddles easy. 

He looked about in that very place for his own image ; but another 
man stood in his accustomed corner, and though the clock pointed to 
his usual time of day for being there he saw no likeness of himself among 
the multitudes that poured in through the porch. It gave him little 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 45 

surprise, however ; for he had been revolving in his mind a change of 
life, and thought and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions carried out 
in this. 

Quiet and dark, beside him stood the Phantom, with its outstretched 
hand. When he roused himself from his thoughtful quest, he fancied 
from the turn of the hand, and its situation in reference to himself, that 
the Unseen Eyes were looking at him keenly. It made him shudder, and 
feel very cold. 

They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure part of the town, 
where Scrooge had never penetrated before, although he recognised its 
situation, and its bad repute. The ways were foul and narrow ; the 
shops and houses wretched ; the people half -naked, drunken, slipshod, 
ugly. Alleys and archways, like so many cesspools, disgorged their 
offences of smell, and dirt, and life, upon the straggHng streets ; and the 
whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and misery. 

Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low-browed, beethng 
shop, below a pent-house roof, where iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and 
greasy offal, were brought. Upon the floor within, were piled up heaps 
of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, and refuse iron 
of all kinds Secrets that few would like to scrutinise were bred and 
hidden in mountains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and 
sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt in, by a charcoal 
stove, made of old bricks, was a grey-haired rascal, nearly seventy years 
of age ; who had screened himself from the cold air without, by a f rouzy 
curtaining of miscellaneous tatters, hung upon a Hne ; and smoked his 
pipe in all the luxury of calm retirement. 

Scrooge and the Phantom came into the presence of this man, just as 
a woman with a heavy bundle slunk into the shop. But she had scarcely 
entered, when another woman, similarly laden, came in too ; and she 
was closely followed by a man in faded black, who was no less startled by 
the sight of them, than they had been upon the recognition of each other. 
After a short period of blank astonishment, in which the old man with 
the pipe had joined them, they all three burst into a laugh. 

" Let the charwoman alone to be the first ! " cried she who had entered 
first. " Let the laundress alone to be the second ; and let the under- 
taker's man alone to be the third. Look here, old Joe, here's a chance ! 
If we haven't all three met here without meaning it ! " 

" You couldn't have met in a better place," said old Joe, removing his 
pipe from his mouth. " Come into the parlour. You were made free 
of it long ago, you know ; and the other two an't strangers. Stop till 
I shut the door of the shop. Ah ! How it skreeks ! There ain't such a 
rusty bit of metal in the place as its own hinges, I beheve ; and I'm sure 
there's no such old bones here, as mine. Ha, ha ! We're all suitable 
to our calHng, we're well matched. Come into the parlour. Come 
into the parlour." 

The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. The old man 



46 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

raked the fire together with an old stair-rod, and having trimmed his 
smoky lamp (for it was night), with the stem of his pipe, put it in his 
mouth again. 

While he did this, the woman who had already spoken threw her 
bundle on the floor, and sat down in a flaunting manner on a stool ; 
crossing her elbows on her knees, and looking with a bold defiance at the 
other two. 

" Wliat odds then ! What odds, Mrs. Dilber ? " said the woman. 
" Every person has a right to take care of themselves. He always did ! " 

" That's true, indeed ! " said the laundress. " No man more so." 

" Why, then, don't stand staring as if you was afraid, woman ; who's 
the wiser ? We're not going to pick holes in each other's coats, I 
suppose ? " 

" No, indeed ! " said Mrs. Dilber and the man together. " We should 
hope not." 

" Very well, then ! " cried the woman. " That's enough. WTio's 
the worse for the loss of a few things like these ? Not a dead man, I 
suppose." 

" No, indeed," said Mrs. Dilber, laughing. 

" If he wanted to keep 'em after he was dead, a wicked old screw," 
pursued the woman, " why wasn't he natural in his lifetime ? If he 
had been, he'd have had somebody to look after him when he was 
struck with Death, instead of lying gasping out his last there, alone by 
himself." 

" It's the truest word that ever was spoke," said Mrs. Dilber. " It's 
a judgment on him." 

" I wish it was a little heavier one," replied the woman ; " and it 
should have been, you may depend upon it, if I could have laid my hands 
on anything else. Open that bundle, old Joe, and let me know the value 
of it. Speak out plain. I'm not afraid to be the first, nor afraid for them 
to see it. We knew pretty well that we were helping ourselves, before 
we met here, I believe. It's no sin. Open the bundle, Joe." 

But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of this ; and the man 
in faded black, mounting the breach first, produced his plunder. It was 
not extensive. A seal or two, a pencil-case, a pair of sleeve-buttons, 
and a brooch of no great value, were all. They were severally examined 
and appraised by old Joe, who chalked the sums he was disposed to give 
for each, upon the wall, and added them up into a total when he found 
there was nothing more to come. 

" That's your account," said Joe, " and I wouldn't give another six- 
pence, if I was to be boiled for not doing it. Who's next ? " 

Mrs. Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a little wearing apparel, 
two old-fashioned silver teaspoons, a pair of sugar-tongs, and a few 
boots. Her account was stated on the wall in the same manner. 

" I always give too much to ladies. It's a weakness of mine, and that's 
the way I ruin myself," said old Joe. " That's your account. If you 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 47 

asked me for another penny, and made it an open question, I'd repent 
of being so liberal and knock off half-a-crown." 

" And now undo my bundle, Joe," said the first woman. 

Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience of opening it, 
and having unfastened a great many knots, dragged out a large and 
heavy roll of some dark stuff. 

" What do you call this ? " said Joe. " Bed-curtains ! " 

" Ah ! " returned the woman, laughing and leaning forward on her 
crossed arms. " Bed-curtains i " 

" You don't mean to say you took 'em down, rings and all, with him 
lying there ? " said Joe. 

" Yes I do," replied the woman. " Why not ? " 

" You were born to make your fortune," said Joe, "and you'll certainly 
doit." 

" I certainly shan't hold my hand, when I can get anything in it by 
reaching it out, for the sake of such a man as He was, I promise you, Joe," 
returned the woman coolly. " Don't drop that oil upon the blankets, 
now." 

" His blankets ? " asked Joe. 

" Whose else's, do you think ? " replied the woman. " He isn't Hkely 
to take cold without 'em, I dare say." 

" I hope he didn't die of anything catching ? Eh ? " said old Joe, 
stopping in his work, and looking up. 

" Don't you be afraid of that," returned the woman. " I ain't so fond 
of his company that I'd loiter about him for such things, if he did. Ah ! 
you may look through that shirt till your eyes ache ; but you won't find 
a hole in it, nor a threadbare place. It's the best he had, and a fine 
one too. They'd have wasted it, if it hadn't been for me." 

" What do you call wasting of it ? " asked old Joe. 

" Putting it on him to be buried in, to be sure." replied the woman 
with a laugh. " Somebody was fool enough to do it, but I took it off 
again. If calico ain't good enough for such a purpose, it isn't good 
enough for anything. It's quite as becoming to the body. He can't 
look uglier than he did in that one." 

Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. As they sat grouped 
about their spoil, in the scanty light afforded by the old man's lamp, he 
viewed them with a detestation and disgust, which could hardly have 
been greater, though they had been obscene demons, marketing the 
corpse itself. 

" Ha, ha ! " laughed the same woman, when old Joe, producing a 
flannel bag with money in it, told out their several gains upon the ground. 
" This is the end of it, you see ! He frightened every one away from him 
when he was aHve, to profit us when he was dead ! Ha, ha, ha ! " 

" Spirit ! " said Scrooge, shuddering from head to foot. " I see, I see. 
The case of this unhappy man might be my own. My life tends that 
way, now. Merciful Heaven, what is this ! " 



48 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

He recoiled in terror, for the scene had changed, and now he almost 
touched a bed : a bare uncurtained bed : on which, beneath a ragged 
sheet, there lay a something covered up, which, though it was dumb, 
announced itself in awful language. 

The room was very dark, too dark to be observed with any accuracy, 
though Scrooge glanced round it in obedience to a secret impulse, 
anxious to know what kind of room it was. A pale light, rising in the 
outer air, fell straight upon the bed ; and on it, plundered and bereft, 
unwatched, unwept, uncared for, was the body of this man. 

Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. Its steady hand was pointed 
to the head. The cover was so carelessly adjusted that the slightest 
raising of it, the motion of a finger upon Scrooge's part, would have 
disclosed the face. He thought of it, felt how easy it would be to do, 
and longed to do it ; but had no more power to withdraw the veil than 
to dismiss the spectre at his side. 

Oh cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up thine altar here, and dress 
it with such terrors as thou hast at thy command : for this is thy 
dominion ! But of the loved, revered, and honoured head, thou canst 
not turn one hair to thy dread purposes, or make one feature odious. It 
is not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released ; it is 
not that the heart and pulse are still ; but that the hand was open, 
generous, and true ; the heart brave, warm, and tender ; and the pulse 
a man's. Strike, Shadow, strike ! And see his good deeds springing 
from the wound, to sow the world with life immortal ! 

No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge's ears, and yet he heard 
them when he looked upon the bed. He thought, if this man could 
be raised up now, what would be his foremost thoughts ? Avarice, hard 
dealing, griping cares ? They have brought him to a rich end, truly ! 

He lay in the dark empty house, with not a man, a woman, or a child, 
to say that he was kind to me in this or that, and for the memory of one 
kind word I will be kind to him. A cat was tearing at the door, and 
there was a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone. What 
they wanted in the room of death, and why they were so restless and 
disturbed, Scrooge did not dare to think. 

" Spirit ! " he said, " this is a fearful place. In leaving it, I shall not 
leave its lesson, trust me. Let us go ! " 

Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to the head. 
" I understand you," Scrooge returned, " and I would do it, if I could. 
But I have not the power, Spirit. I have not the power." 
Again it seemed to look upon him. 

" If there is anv person in the town, who feels emotion caused by this 
man's death," said Scrooge quite agonised, " show that person to me. 
Spirit, I beseech you ! " 

The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a moment, like a 
wing ; and withdrawing it, revealed a room by dayhght, where a mother 
and her children were. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 49 

She was expecting some one, and with anxious eagerness ; for she walked 
up and down the room ; started at every sound ; looked out from the 
window ; glanced at the clock ; tried, but in vain, to work with her 
needle ; and could hardly bear the voices of the children in their play. 

At length the long-expected knock was heard. She hurried to the 
door, and met her husband ; a man whose face was careworn and depressed 
though he was young. There was a remarkable expression in it now ; a 
kind of serious delight of which he felt ashamed, and which he struggled 
to repress. 

He sat down to the dinner that had been hoarding for him by the fire ; 
and when she asked him faintly what news (which was not until after a 
long silence), he appeared embarrassed how to answer. 
" Is it good," she said, " or bad ? " — to help him. 
" Bad," he answered. 
" We are quite ruined ? " 
" No. There is hope yet, Caroline." 

" If he relents," she said, amazed, " there is ! Nothing is past hope 
if such a miracle has happened." 

" He is past relenting," said her husband. " He is dead." 
She was a mild and patient creature if her face spoke truth ; but she 
was thankful in her soul to hear it, and she said so, with clasped hands. 
She prayed forgiveness the next moment, and was sorry ; but the first 
was the emotion of her heart. 

" What the half-drunken woman whom I told you of last night, said 
to me, when I tried to see him and obtain a week's delay ; and what I 
thought was a mere excuse to avoid me ; turns out to have been quite 
true. He was not only very ill, but dying, then." 
" To whom will our debt be transferred ? " 

" I don't know. But before that time we shall be ready with the 
money ; and even though we were not, it would be bad fortune indeed 
to find so merciless a creditor in his successor. We may sleep to-night 
with light hearts, Caroline ! " 

Yes. Soften it as they would, their hearts were lighter. The children's 
faces, hushed, and clustered round to hear what they so little understood, 
were brighter ; and it was a happier house for this man's death ! The 
only emotion that the Ghost could show him, caused by the event, was 
one of pleasure. 

" Let me see some tenderness connected with a death," said Scrooge ; 
" or that dark chamber. Spirit, which we left just now, will be for ever 
present to me." 

The Ghost conducted him through several streets familiar to his feet ; 
and as they went along, Scrooge looked here and there to find himself, 
but nowhere was he to be seen. They entered poor Bob Cratchit's 
house ; the dwelhng he had visited before ; and found the mother 
and the children seated round the fire. 

Quiet. Very quiet. The noisy Httle Cratchits were as still as statues 



50 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

in one corner, and sat looking up at Peter, who had a book before him. 
The mother and her daughter were engaged in sewing. But surely they 
were very quiet ! 

" ' And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them.' " 

Where had Scrooge heard those words ? He had not dreamed them. 
The boy must have read them out, as he and the Spirit crossed the 
threshold. Why did he not go on ? 

The mother laid her work upon the table, and put her hand up to her 
face. 

•' The colour hurts my eyes," she said. 

The colour ? Ah, poor Tiny Tim ! 

" They're better now again," said Cratchit's wife. "It males tiiem 
weak by candle light ; and I wouldn't show weak eyes to your father when 
he comes home, for the world. It must be near his time." 

" Past it rather," Peter answered, shutting up his book. " But I 
think he's walked a Httle slower than he used, these few last evenings, 
mother." 

They were very quiet again. At last she said, and in a steady cheerful 
voice, that only faltered once : 

" I have known him walk with — I have known him walk with Tiny 
Tim upon his shoulder, very fast indeed." 

" And so have I," cried Peter. " Often." 

" And so have I," exclaimed another. So had all. 

" But he was very light to carry," she resumed, intent upon her work, 
* ' and his father loved him so, that it was no trouble — no trouble. And 
there is your father at the door ! " 

She hurried out to meet him ; and little Bob in his comforter — he had 
need of it, poor fellow — came in. His tea was ready for him on the 
hob, and they all tried who should help him to it most. Then the two 
young Cratchits got upon his knees and laid, each child a httle cheek, 
against his face, as if they said, " Don't mind it, father. Don't be 
grieved ! " 

Bob was very cheerful with them, and spoke pleasantly to all the family. 
He looked at the work upon the table, and praised the industry and speed 
of Mrs. Cratchit and the girls. They would be done long before Sunday, 
he said. 

" Sunday ! You went to-day then, Robert ? " said his wife. 
" Yes, my dear," returned Bob. " I wish you could have gone. It 
would have done you good to see how green a place it is. But you'll see 
it often. I promised him that I would walk there on a Sunday. My 
Httle, httle child ! " cried Bob. " My httle child ! " 

He broke down all at once. He couldn't help it. If he could have 
helped it, he and his child would have been farther apart perhaps than 
they were. 

He left the room, and went up stairs into the room above-, which was 
lighted cheerfully, and hung with Christmas. There was a chair set 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 51 

close beside the child, and there were signs of some one having been 
there, lately. Poor Bob sat down in it, and when he had thought a little 
and composed himself, he kissed the little face. He was reconciled 
to what had happened, and went dov/n again quite happy. 

They drew about the fire, and talked ; the girls and mother working 
still. Bob told them of the extraordinary kindness of Mr. Scrooge's 
nephew, whom he had scarcely seen but once, and who, meeting him 
in the street that day, and seeing that he looked a little — " just a little 
down you know," said Bob, inquired what had happened to distress 
him. " On which," said Bob, " for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentle- 
man you ever heard, I told him. ' I am heartily sorry for it, Mr. 
Cratchit,' he said, ' and heartily sorry for your good wife.' By-the bye, 
how he ever knew that, I don't know." 

" Knew what, my dear ? " 

" Why, that you were a good wife," repHed Bob. 

" Everybody knows that ! " said Peter. 

" Very well observed, my boy ! " cried Bob. " I hope they do. 
* Heartily sorry,' he said, ' for your good wife. If I can be of service to 
you in any way,' he said, giving me his card, ' that's where I live. Pray 
come to me.' Now, it wasn't," cried Bob, " for the sake of anything 
he might be able to do for us, so much as for his kind way, that this 
was quite delightful. It really seemed as if he had known our Tiny 
Tim, and felt with us." 

" I'm sure he's a good soul ! " said Mrs. Cratchit. 

" You would be surer of it, my dear," returned Bob, " if you saw and 
spoke to him. I shouldn't be at all surprised, mark what I say, if he got 
Peter a better situation." 

" Only hear that, Peter," said Mrs. Cratchit. 

" And then," cried one of the girls, " Peter will be keeping company 
wth some one, and setting up for himself." 

" Get along with you ! " retorted Peter, grinning. 

*' It's just as likely as not," said Bob, " one of these days ; though 
there's plenty of time for that, my dear. But however and whenever 
we part from one another, I am sure we shall none of us forget poor 
Tiny Tim — shall we — or this first parting that there was among us ? " 

" Never, father ! " cried they all. 

" And I know," said Bob, " I know, my dears, that when we recollect 
how patient and how mild he was ; although he was a little, httle child ; 
we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim 
in doing it." 

" No, never, father ! " they all cried again. 

" I am very happy," said httle Bob, " I am very happy ! " 

Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him, the two young 
Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and himself shook hands. Spirit of Tiny 
Tim, thy childish essence was from God ! 

" Spectre," said Scrooge, " somethino; informs me that our parting 



52 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

moment is at hand. I know it, but I know not how. Tell me what man 
that was whom we saw lying dead ? " 

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed him, as before — 
though at a different time, he thought : indeed, there seemed no 
order in these latter visions, save that they were in the Future — into 
the resorts of business men, but showed him not himself. Indeed, the 
Spirit did not stay for anything, but went straight on, as to the end 
just now desired, until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment. 

" This court," said Scrooge, " through which we hurry now, is where 
my place of occupation is, and has been for a length of time. I see the 
house. Let me behold what I shall be, in days to come ! " 

The Spirit stopped ; the hand was pointed elsewhere. 

" The house is yonder," Scrooge exclaimed. " Why do you point 
away ? " 

The inexorable finger underwent no change. 

Scrooge hastened to the window of his office, and looked in. It was 
an office still, but not his. The furniture was not the same, and the figure 
in the chair was not himself. The Phantom pointed as before. 

He joined it once again, and wondering why and whither he had gone, 
accompanied it until they reached an iron gate. He paused to look 
round before entering. 

A churchyard. Here, then, the wretched man whose name he had now 
to learn, lay underneath the ground. It was a worthy place. Walled 
in by houses ; overrun by grass and weeds, the growth of vegetation's 
death, not Hfe ; choked up with too much burying ; fat with repleted 
appetite. A worthy place ! 

The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to One. He 
advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had 
been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape. 

"Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point," said Scrooge, 
" answer me one question. Are the«!e the shadows of the things that 
Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only ? " 

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood. 

" Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered 
in, they must lead," said Scrooge. " But if the courses be de- 
parted from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show 
me!" 

The Spirit was immovable as ever. 

Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went ; and following the 
finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, 
Ebenezer Scrooge. 

"■ Am / that man who lay upon the bed ? " he cried, upon his knees. 

The figure pointed from the grave to him, and back again. 

" No, Spirit ! Oh no, no ! " 

The finger still was there. 

" Spirit ! " he cried, tight clutching at its robe, " hear me ! I am not 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 53 

the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this 
intercourse. Why show me this, i£ I am past all hope ! " 

For the first time the hand appeared to shake. 

" Good Spirit," he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before 
it : " 1 our nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that 1 
yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life ! " 

The kind hand trembled. 

" I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. 
I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all 
Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they 
teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone ! " 

In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to free itself, but 
he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it. The Spirit, stronger yet, 
repulsed him. Holding up his hands in one last prayer to have his fate 
reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom's hood and dress. It 
shrank, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost. 



STAVE FIVE : The End of It 

Yes ! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was 
his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to 
make amends in ! 

" I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future ! " Scrooge 
repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. " The Spirits of all Three shall 
strive within me. Oh, Jacob Marley ! Heaven, and the Christmas 
Time be praised for this ! I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees ! " 

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions, that his 
broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing 
violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with 
tears. 

" They are not torn down," cried Scrooge, folding one of his bed- 
curtains in his arms, " they are not torn down, rings and all. They are 
here : I am here : the shadows of the things that would have been may 
be dispelled. They will be. I know they will ! " 

His hands were busy with his garments all this time : turning them 
inside out, putting them on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them, 
making them parties to every kind of extravagance. 

" I don't know what to do ! " cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the 
same breath ; and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings. 
" I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a 
schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A Merry Christmas to 
everybody ! A Happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here ! 
Whoop! Hallo ! " 

He had frisked into the sitting-room, and was now standing there : 
perfectly winded. 

" There's the saucepan that the gruel was in ! " cried Scrooge, starting 



54 ACHRISTMASCAROL 

off again, and frisking round the fireplace. " There's the door, by which 
the Ghost of Jacob Marley entered ! There's the corner where the 
Ghost of Christmas Present sat ! There's the window where I saw the 
wandering Spirits ! It's all right, it's all true, it all happened. Ha, 
ha, ha ! " '- 

Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it 
was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long 
line of brilliant laughs ! 

" I don't know what day of the month it is ! " said Scrooge. " I don't 
know how long I've been among the Spirits. I don't know anything. 
I'm quite a baby. Never mind. I don't care. I'd rather be a baby. 
Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here ! " 

He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest 
peals he had ever heard. Clash, clang, hammer, ding, dong, bell. Bell, 
dong, ding, hammer, clang, clash ! Oh, glorious, glorious ! 

Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No 
fog, no mist ; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold ; cold, piping for the 
blood to dance to ; golden sunlight ; heavenly sky ; sweet fresh air ; 
merry bells. Oh, glorious. Glorious ! 

" What's to-day ? " cried Scrooge, calHng downward to a boy in 
Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him. 

" Eh ? " returned the boy, with all his might of wonder. 

" What's to-day, my fine fellow ? " said Scrooge. 

" To-day ! " repHed the boy. " Why, Christmas Day." 

" It's Christmas Day ! " said Scrooge to himself. " I haven't missed 
it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything 
they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine 
fellow ! " 

" Hallo ! " returned the boy. 

*' Do you know the poulterer's, in the next street but one, at the 
corner .? " Scrooge inquired. 

" I should hope I did," replied the lad. 

" An intelligent boy ! " said Scrooge. " A remarkable boy ! Do you 
know whether they've sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there .? 
Not the little prize Turkey : the big one ? " 

" What, the one as big as me ? " returned the boy. 

*' What a delightful boy ! " said Scrooge. " It's a pleasure to talk 
to him. Yes, my buck ! " 

" It's hanging there now," rephed the boy. 

" Is it ? " said Scrooge. " Go and buy it." 

" Walk-ER ! " exclaimed the boy. 

" No, no," said Scrooge, " I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and 
tell 'em to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where 
to take it. Come back with the man, and I'll give you a shiUing. 
Come back with him in less than five minutes, and I'll give \ou half-a- 
crown ! " 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 55 

The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady hand at a 
trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast. 

" I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's ! " whispered Scrooge, rubbing his 
hands, and splitting with a laugh, " He shan't know who sends it. It's, 
twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe Miller never made such a joke as 
sending it to Bob's will be ! " 

The hand in which he wrote the address was not a steady one, but 
write it he did, somehow, and went down stairs to open the street door,, 
ready for the coming of the poulterer's man. As he stood there,, 
waiting his arrival, the knocker caught his eye. 

" I shall love it, as long as I live ! " cried Scrooge, patting it with 
his hand. " I scarcely ever looked at it before. What an honest 
expression it has in its face ! It's a wonderful knocker ! — Here's the 
Turkey. Hallo ! Whoop ! How are you ! Merry Christmas ! " 

It zvas a Turkey ! He could never have stood upon his legs, that bird. 
He would have snapped 'em short off in a minute, like sticks of sealing- 
wax. 

" Why, it's impossible to carry that to Camden Town," said Scrooge. 
" You must have a cab." 

The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with which he 
paid for the turkey, and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab^ 
and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy, were only to be 
exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair 
again, and chuckled till he cried. 

Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand continued to shake very 
much ; and shaving requires attention, even when you don't dance 
while you are at it. But if he had cut the end of his nose off, he would 
have put a piece of sticking-plaster over it, and been quite satisfied. 

He dressed himself " all in his best," and at last got out into the 
streets. The people were by this time pouring forth, as he had seen 
them with the Ghost of Christmas Present ; and walking with his hands, 
behind him, Scrooge regarded every one with a delighted smile. He 
looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a word, that three or four good- 
humoured fellows said, " Good morning, sir ! A Merry Christmas ta 
you ! " And Scrooge said often afterwards, that of all the blithe 
sounds he had ever heard, those were the blithest in his ears. 

He had not gone far, when coming on towards him he beheld the portly- 
gentleman, who had walked into his counting-house the day before and 
said, " Scrooge and Marley's, I believe ? " It sent a pang across his- 
heart to think how this old gentleman would look upon him when they 
met ; but he knew what path lay straight before him, and he took it. 

" My dear sir," said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and taking the old 
gentleman by both his hands. " How do you do ? I hope you succeeded 
yesterday. It was very kind of you. A Merry Christmas to you, sir ! '* 

" Mr. Scrooge ? " 

" Yes," said Scrooge. " That is my name, and I fear it may not be 



56 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

pleasant to you. Allow me to ask your pardon. And will you have the 
goodness " — here Scrooge whispered in his ear. 

" Lord bless me," cried the gentleman, as if his breath were gone. 
" My dear Mr. Scrooge, are you serious ? " 

" If you please," said Scrooge. " Not a farthing less. A great many 
back-payments are included in it, I assure you. Will you do me that 
favour ? " 

" My dear sir," said the other, shaking hands with him. " I don't 
know what to say to such munifi " 

" Don't say anything, please," retorted Scrooge. " Come and see 
me. Will you come and see me ? " 

" I will ! " cried the old gentleman. And it was clear he meant to 
doit. 

" Thank'ee," said Scrooge. " I am much obliged to you. I thank 
you fifty times. Bless you ! " 

He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the 
people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and 
questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and 
up to the windows ; and found that everything could yield him pleasure. 
He had never dreamed that any walk — that anything — could give him so 
much happiness. In the afternoon, he turned his steps towards his 
nephew's house. 

He passed the door a dozen times, before he had the courage to go up 
and knock. But he made a dash, and did it : 

" Is your master at home, my dear .? " said Scrooge to the girl. Nice 
girl ! Very. 

" Yes, sir." 

" Where is he, my love ? " said Scrooge. 

" He's in the dining-room, sir, along with mistress. I'll show you 
up stairs, if you please." 

" Thank'ee. He knows me," said Scrooge, with his hand already on 
the dining-room lock. " I'll go in here, my dear." 

He turned it gently, and sidled his face in, round the door. They 
were looking at the table (which was spread out in great array) ; for 
these young housekeepers are always nervous on such points, and like to 
see that everything is right. 

" Fred ! " said Scrooge. 

Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage started ! Scrooge had 
forgotten, for the moment, about her sitting in the corner with the 
footstool, or he wouldn't have done it, on any account. 

" Why bless my soul ! " cried Fred, " who's that ? " 

" It's I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. Will you 
let me in, Fred ? " 

Let him in ! It's a mercy he didn't shake his arm off. He was at 
home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier. His niece looked 
just the same. So did Topper when he came. So did the plump sister, 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 57 

when she came. So did every one when they came. Wonderful party, 
wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happiness ! 

But he was early at the office next morning. Oh he was early there. 
If he could only be there first, and catch Bob Cratchit coming late ! 
That was the thing he had set his heart upon. 

And he did it ; yes he did ! The clock struck nine. No Bob. A 
quarter past. No Bob. He was full eighteen minutes and a half behind 
his time. Scrooge sat with his door wide open, that he might see him 
come into the Tank. 

His hat was off before he opened the door ; his comforter too. He 
was on his stool in a jiffy ; driving away with his pen, as if he were trying 
to overtake nine o'clock. 

" Hallo ! " growled Scrooge, in his accustomed voice as near as he 
could feign it. " What do you mean by coming here at this time of 
day ? " 

" I am very sorry, sir," said Bob. " I am behind my time." 

" You are ? " repeated Scrooge. " Yes. I think you are. Step this 
way, sir, if you please." 

" It's only once a year, sir," pleaded Bob, appearing from the Tank. 
" It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir.'* 

" Now, I'll tell you what, my friend," said Scrooge, " I am not going 
to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore," he continued, 
leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that 
he staggered back into the Tank again : " and therefore I am about to 
raise your salary ! " 

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He had a 
momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it ; holding him ; and 
calhng to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat. 

" A Merry Christmas, Bob ! " said Scrooge, with an earnestness that 
could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. " A merrier 
Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year ! 
I'll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and 
we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of 
smoking bishop. Bob ! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle 
before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit ! " 

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more ; 
and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became 
as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old 
city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old 
world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let 
them laugh, and little heeded them ; for he was wise enough to know 
that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people 
did not have their fill of laughter in the outset ; and knowing that such 
as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they 
should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less 



58 THE CHIMES 

attractive forms. His own heart laughed : and that was quite enough 
for him. 

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total 
Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards ; and it was always said of him, 
that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the 
knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us ! And so, as Tiny 
Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One ! 



THE CHIMES: A GOBLIN STORT OF SOME 
BELLS THAT RANG AN OLD TEAR OUT 
AND A NEW TEAR IN 



FIRST QUARTER 

There are not many people — and as it is desirable that a story-teller and 
a story-reader should establish a mutual understanding as soon as possible, 
I beg it to be noticed that I confine this observation neither to young 
people nor to little people, but extend it to all conditions of people : 
little and big, young and old : yet growing up, or already growing down 
again — there are not, I say, many people who would care to sleep in a 
church. I don't mean at sermon-time in warm weather (when the 
thing has actually been done, once or twice), but in the night and alone. 
A great multitude of persons will be violently astonished, I know, by 
this position, in the broad bold Day. But it applies to Night. It must 
be argued by night. And I will undertake to maintain it successfully 
on any gusty winter's night appointed for the purpose, with any one 
opponent chosen from the rest, who will meet me singly in an old 
churchyard, before an old church door ; and will previously empower 
me to lock him in, if needful to his satisfaction, until m.orning. 

For the night-wind has a dismal trick of wandering round and round 
a building of that sort, and moaning as it goes ; and of trying, with its 
unseen hand, the windows and the doors ; and seeking out some crevices 
by which to enter. And when it has got in ; as one not finding what it 
seeks, whatever that may be ; it wails and howls to issue forth again : 
and not content with stalking through the aisles, and gliding round and 
round the pillars, and tempting the deep organ, soars up to the roof, 
and strives to rend the rafters : then flings itself despairingly upon the 
stones below, and passes, muttering, into the vaults. Anon, it comes up 
stealthily, and creeps along the walls : seeming to read, in whispers, the 
Inscriptions sacred to the Dead. At some of these, it breaks out shrilly 
as with laughter ; and at others, moans and cries as if it were lamenting. 
It has a ghostly sound too, lingering within the altar ; where it seems to 



THE CHIMES 59 

chant, in its wild way, of Wrong and Murder done, and false Gods 
worshipped ; in defiance of the Tables of the Law, which look so fair and 
smooth, but are so flawed and broken. Ugh ! Heaven preserve us, 
sitting snugly round the fire ! It has an awful voice, that wind at 
Midnight, singing in a church ! 

But high up in the steeple ! There the foul blast roars and whistles. 
High up in the steeple, where it is free to come and go through many an 
airy arch and loophole, and to twist and twine itself about the giddy stair, 
and twirl the groaning weathercock, and make the very tower shake and 
shiver ! High up in the steeple, where the belfry is ; and iron rails are 
ragged with rust ; and sheets of lead and copper, shrivelled by the 
changing weather, crackle and heave beneath the unaccustomed tread, 
and birds stuff shabby nests into corners of old oaken joists and beams ; 
and dust grows old and grey ; and speckled spiders, indolent and fat 
with long security, swing idly to and fro in the vibration of the bells, and 
never loose their hold upon their threadspun castles in the air, or climb up 
sailor-like in quick alarm, or drop upon the ground and ply a score of 
nimble legs to save a life ! High up in the steeple of an old church, far 
above the light and murmur of the town and far below the flying clouds 
that shadow it, is the wild and dreary place at night : and high up in 
the steeple of an old church, dwelt the Chimes I tell of. 

They were old Chimes, trust me. Centuries ago, these Bells had been 
baptized by bishops : so many centuries ago, that the register of their 
baptism was lost long, long before the memory of man : and no one 
knew their names. They had had their Godfathers and Godmothers, 
these Bells (for my own part, by the way, I would rather incur the 
responsibility of being Godfather to a Bell than a Boy) : and had their 
silver mugs no doubt, besides. But Time had mowed down their 
sponsors, and Henry the Eighth had melted down their mugs : and they 
now hung, nameless and mugless, in the church tower. 

Not speechless, though. Far from it. They had clear, loud, lusty 
sounding voices, had these Bells ; and far and wide they might be heard 
upon the wind. Much too sturdy Chimes were they, to be dependent 
on the pleasure of the wind, moreover ; for, fighting gallantly against 
it when it took an adverse whim, they would pour their cheerful notes 
into a listening ear right royally ; and bent on being heard, on stormy 
nights, by some poor mother watching a sick child, or some lone wife 
whose husband was at sea, they had been sometimes known to beat a 
blustering Nor'-Wester ; ay, " all to fits," as Toby Veck said ; for 
though they chose to call him Trotty Veck, his name was Toby, and 
nobody could make it anything else either (except Tobias) without a 
special Act of Parliament ; he having been as lawfully christened in his 
day as the Bells had been in theirs, though with not quite so much 
solemnity or public rejoicing. 

For my part, I confess myself of Toby Veck's behef, for I am sure he 
had opportunities enough of forming a correct one. And whatever 



6o THE CHIMES 

Tohey Veck said, I say. And I take my stand by Toby Veck, although he 
did stand all day long (and weary work it was) just outside the church- 
door. In fact he was a ticket-porter, Toby Veck, and waited there for 
jobs. 

And a breezy, goose-skinned, blue-nosed, red-eyed, stony-toed, tooth- 
chattering place it was, to wait in, in the winter-time, as Toby Veck well 
knew. The wind came tearing round the corner — especially the east 
wind — as if it had sallied forth, express, from the confines of the earth, to 
have a blow at Toby. And oftentimes it seemed to come upon him 
sooner than it had expected, for bouncing round the corner, and passing 
Toby, it would suddenly wheel round again, as if it cried " Why, here he 
is ! " Incontinently his little apron would be caught up over his head 
Hke a naughty boy's garments, and his feeble little cane would be seen 
to wrestle and struggle unavailingly in his hand, and his legs would 
undergo tremendous agitation, and Toby himself all aslant, and facing 
now in this direction, now in that, would be so banged and buffeted, 
and touzled, and worried, and hustled, and lifted off his feet, as to render 
it a state of things but one degree removed from a positive miracle, that 
he wasn't carried up bodily into the air as a colony of frogs or snails or 
other very portable creatures sometimes are, and rained down again, to 
the great astonishment of the natives, on some strange corner of the world 
where ticket-porters are unknown. 

But, windy weather, in spite of its using him so roughly, was, after all, 
a sort of hohday for Toby. That's the fact. He didn't seem to wait 
so long for a sixpence in the wind, as at other times ; the having to fight 
with that boisterous element took off his attention, and quite freshened 
him up, when he was getting hungry and low-spirited. A hard 
frost too, or a fall of snow, was an Event ; and it seemed to do him 
good, somehow or other — it would have been hard to say in what respect 
though, Toby ! So wind and frost and snow, and perhaps a good stiff 
storm of hail, were Toby Veck's red-letter days. 

Wet weather was the worst : the cold, damp, clammy wet, that 
wrapped him up like a moist great-coat : the only kind of great-coat 
Toby owned, or could have added to his comfort by dispensing with. 
Wet days, when the rain came slowly, thickly, obstinately down ; when 
the street's throat, like his own, was choked with mist ; when smoking 
umbrellas passed and repassed, spinning round and round like so many 
teetotums, as they knocked against each other on the crowded footway, 
throwing off a little whirlpool of uncomfortable sprinklings ; when 
gutters brawled and waterspouts were full and noisy ; when the wet 
from the projecting stones and ledges of the church fell drip, drip, 
drip, on Toby, making the wisp of straw on which he stood mere mud 
in no time ; those were the days that tried him. Then indeed, you 
might see Toby looking anxiously out from his shelter in an angle of the 
church wall — such a meagre shelter that in summer time it never cast 
a shadow thicker than a good-sized walking stick upon the sunny pave- 



THE CHIMES 6i 

ment — ^with a disconsolate and lengthened face. But coming out, a 
minute afterwards, to warm himself by exercise ; and trotting up and 
down some dozen times : he would brighten even then, and go back more 
brightly to his niche. 

They called him Trotty from his pace, which meant speed if it didn't 
make it. He could have Walked faster perhaps ; most likely ; but 
rob him of his trot, and Toby would have taken to his bed and died. 
It bespattered him with mud in dirty weather ; it cost him a world of 
trouble ; he could have walked with infinitely greater ease ; but that 
was one reason for his clinging to it so tenaciously. A weak, small, spare 
old man, he was a very Hercules, this Toby, in his good intentions. He 
loved to earn his money. He delighted to believe — ^Toby was very 
poor, and couldn't well afford to part with a dehght — that^he was worth 
his salt. With a shilhng or an eighteen-penny message or small parcel in 
hand, his courage, always high, rose higher. As he trotted on, he would 
call out to fast Postmen ahead of him, to get out of the way ; devoutly 
believing that in the natural course of things he must inevitably overtake 
and run them down ; and he had perfect faith — not often tested — in 
his being able to carry anything that man could Hft. 

Thus, even when he came out of his nook to warm himself on a wet 
day, Toby trotted. Making, with his leaky shoes, a crooked line of 
slushy footprints in the mire ; and blowing on his chilly hands and rubbing 
them against each other, poorly defended from the searching cold by 
thread-bare mufflers of grey worsted, with a private apartment only 
for the thumb, and a common room or tap for the rest of the fingers ; 
Toby, vnth his knees bent and his cane beneath his arm, still trotted. 
Falling out into the road to look up at the belfry when the Chimes 
resounded, Toby trotted still. 

He made this last excursion several times a day, for they were company 
to him ; and when he heard their voices, he had an interest in glancing 
at their lodging-place, and thinking how they were moved, and what 
hammers beat upon them. Perhaps he was the more curious about 
these Bells, because there were points of resemblance between them- 
selves and him. They hung there, in all weathers : with the wind and 
rain driving in upon them : facing only the outsides of all those houses ; 
never getting any nearer to the blazing fires that gleamed and shone 
upon the windows, or came puffing out of the chimney tops ; and 
incapable of participation in any of the good things that were constantly 
being handed, through the street doors and the area raihngs, to pro- 
digious cooks. Faces came and went at many windows : sometimes 
pretty faces, youthful faces, pleasant faces : sometimes the reverse : 
but Toby knew no more (though he often speculated on these trifles, 
standing idle in the streets) whence they came, or where they went, 
or whether, when the lips moved, one kind word was said of him in all 
the year, than did the Chimes themselves. 

Toby was not a casuist — that he knew of, at least — and I don't mean 



62 THECHIMES 

to say that when he began to take to the Bells, and to knit up his first 
rough acquaintance with them into something of a closer and more 
dehcate woof, he passed through these considerations one by one, or held 
any formal review or great field-day in his thoughts. But what I mean 
to say, and do say is, that as the functions of Toby's body, his digestive 
organs for example, did of their own cunning, and by a great many 
operations of which he was altogether ignorant, and the knowledge of 
which would have astonished him very much, arrive at a certain end ; so 
his mental faculties, without his privity or concurrence, set all these 
wheels and springs in motion, with a thousand others, when they worked 
to bring about his Hking for the Bells. 

And though I had said his love, I would not have recalled the word, 
though it would scarcely have expressed his complicated feeling. For, 
being but a simple man, he invested them with a strange and solemn 
character. They were so mysterious, often heard and never seen ; so 
high up, so far off, so full of such a deep strong melody, that he regarded 
them with a species of awe ; and sometimes when he looked up at the 
dark arched windows in the tower, he half expected to be beckoned 
to by something which was not a Bell, and yet was what he heard so 
often sounding in the Chimes. For all this, Toby scouted with indigna- 
tion a certain flying rumour that the Chimes were haunted, as implying 
the possibility of their being connected with any Evil thing. In short, 
they were very often in his ears, and very often in his thoughts, but 
always in his good opinion ; and he very often got such a crick in his 
neck by staring with his mouth wide open, at the steeple where they 
hung, that he was fain to take an extra trot or two, afterwards, to 
cure it. 

The very thing he was in the act of doing one cold day, when the last 
drowsy sound of Twelve o'clock, just struck, was humming like a melo- 
dious monster of a Bee, and not by any means a busy Bee, all through the 
steeple ! 

" Dinner-time, eh ! " said Toby, trotting up and down before the 
church. " Ah ! " 

Toby's nose was very red, and his eyehds were very red, and he winked 
very much, and his shoulders were very near his ears, and his legs were 
very stiff ; and altogether he was evidently a long way upon the frosty side 
of cool. 

" Dinner-time, eh ! " repeated Toby, using his right-hand muffler like 
an infantine boxing-glove, and punishing his chest for being cold. 
" Ah-h-h-h ! " 

He took a silent trot, after that, for a minute or tv/o. 

" There's nothing," said Toby, breaking forth afresh, — but here he 
stopped short in his trot, and with a face of great interest and some alarm, 
felt his nose carefully all the way up. It was but a little way (not being 
much of a nose) and he had soon finished. 

'' I thought it was gone," said Toby, trotting off again. " It's all 



THE CHIMES 63 

right, however. I am sure I couldn't blame it if it was to go. It has 
a precious hard service of it in the bitter weather, and precious little to 
look forward to : for I don't take snuff myself. It's a good deal tried, 
poor creetur, at the best of times ; for when it does get hold of a pleasant 
whiff or so (which ain't too often), it's generally from somebody else's 
dinner, a-coming home from the baker's." 

The reflection reminded him of that other reflection, which he had 
left unfinished. 

" There's nothing," said Toby, " more regular in its coming round 
than dinner-time, and nothing less regular in its coming round than 
dinner. That's the great difference between 'em. It's took me a long 
time to find it out. I wonder whether it would be worth any gentleman's 
while, now, to buy that obserwationfor the Papers ; or the Parliament ! " 

Toby was only joking, for he gravely shook his head in self-depreciation. 

" Why ! Lord ! " said Toby. " The Papers is full of obserwations 
as it is ; and so's the Parliament. Here's last week's paper, now ; " 
taking a very dirty one from his pocket, and holding it from him at arm's 
length ; " full of obserwations ! Full of obserwations ! I like to 
know the news as well as any man," said Toby, slowly ; folding it a 
little smaller, and putting it in his pocket again : " but it almost goes 
against the grain with me to read a paper now. It frightens me almost. 
I don't know what we poor people are coming to. Lord send we may be 
coming to something better in the New Year nigh upon us ! " 

" Why, father, father ! " said a pleasant voice, hard by. 

But Toby, not hearing it, continued to trot backwards and forwards : 
musing as he went, and talking to himself. 

" It seems as if we can't go right, or do right, or be righted," said 
Toby. " I hadn't much schooHng, myself, when I was young ; and 
I can't make out whether we have any business on the face of the earth, 
or not. Sometimes I think we must have a little ; and sometimes I 
think we must be intruding. I get so puzzled sometimes that I am not 
even able to make up my mind whether there is any good at all in us, or 
whether we are born bad. We seem to be dreadful things ; we seem to 
give a deal of trouble ; we are always being complained of and guarded 
against. One way or other, we fill the papers. Talk of a New Year ! " 
said Toby, mournfully. " I can bear up as well as another man at most 
times ; better than a good many, for I am as strong as a Hon, and all 
men ain't ; but supposing it should really be that we have no right to a 
New Year — supposing we really are intruding " 

" Why, father, father ! " said the pleasant voice again. 

Toby heard it this time ; started ; stopped ; and shortened his sight 
which had been directed a long way off as seeking for enlightenment in the 
very heart of the approaching year, found himself face to face with his 
own child, and looking close into her eyes. 

Bright eyes they were. Eyes that would bear a world of looking in, 
before their depth was fathomed. Dark eyes, that reflected back the 



64 THE CHIMES 

eyes which searched them ; not flashingly, or at the owner's will, but 
with a clear, calm, honest, patient radiance, claiming kindred with that 
light which Heaven called into being. Eyes that were beautiful and 
true, and beaming with Hope. With Hope so young and fresh ; 
with Hope so buoyant, vigorous, and bright, despite the twenty years 
of work and poverty on which they had looked ; that they became a 
voice to Trotty Veck, and said : " I think we have some business here — a 
Httle ! " 

Trotty kissed the Hps belonging to the eyes, and squeezed the blooming 
face between his hands. 

" Why, Pet," said Trotty. " What's to do ? I didn't expect you 
to-day, Meg." 

" Neither did I expect to come, father," cried the girl, nodding her 
head and smihng as she spoke. " But here I am ! And not alone ; not 
alone ! " 

" Why you don't mean to say," observed Trotty, looking curiously at 
a covered basket which she carried in her hand, " that you " 

" Smell it, father dear," said Meg. " Only smell it ! " 

Trotty was going to lift up the cover at once, in a great hurry, when she 
gaily interposed her hand. 

" No, no, no," said Meg, with the glee of a child. " Lengthen it 
out a little. Let me just Uft up the corner ; just the ht-de ti-ny 
cor-ner, you know," said Meg, suiting the action to the word with the 
utmost gentleness, and speaking very softly, as if she were afraid of being 
overheard by something inside the basket ; " there. Now. What's 
that ? " 

Toby took the shortest possible sniff at the edge of the basket, and 
•cried out in a rapture : 

" Why, it's hot ! " 

" It's burning hot ! " cried Meg. " Ha, ha, ha ! It's scalding hot ! " 

" Ha, ha, ha ! " roared Toby, with a sort of kick. " It's scalding hot." 

" But what is it, father ? " said Meg. " Come ! You haven't 
guessed what it is. And you must guess what it is. I can't think of 
taking it out, till you guess what it is. Don't be in such a hurry ! Wait 
a minute ! A little bit more of the cover. Now guess ! " 

Meg was in a perfect fright lest he should guess right too soon ; shrink- 
ing away, as she held the basket towards him ; curhng up her pretty 
shoulders ; stopping her ear with her hand, as if by so doing she could 
keep the right word out of Toby's Hps ; and laughing softly the whole 
time. 

Meanwhile Toby, putting a hand on each knee, bent down his nose 
to the basket, and took a long inspiration at the lid ; the grin upon his 
withered face expanding in the process, as if he were inhaling laughing 
gas. 

" Ah ! It's very nice," said Toby " It ain't — I suppose it ain't 
Polonies P " 




€:-Ao,^'Jl^e\ 



Trotty Veck 



THE CHIMES 65 

" No, no, no ! " cried Meg, delighted. " Nothing Hke Polonies ! " 

" No," said Toby, after another sniff. " It's — it's mellower than 
Polonies. It's very nice. It improves every moment. It's too decided 
for Trotters. Ain't it ? " 

Meg was in an ecstasy. He could not have gone wider of the mark than 
Trotters — except Polonies. 

" Liver ? " said Toby, communing with himself. " No. There's a 
mildness about it that don't answer to liver. Pettitoes .? No. It 
ain't faint enough for pettitoes. It wants the stringiness of Cocks' heads. 
And I know it ain't sausages. I'll tell you what it is. It's chitterlings ! " 

" No, it ain't ! " cried Meg, in a burst of delight. " No, it ain't ! " 

" Why, what am I a-thinking of ! " said Toby, suddenly recovering a 
position as near the perpendicular as it was possible for him to assume. 
" I shall forget my own name next. It's tripe ! " 

Tripe it was ; and Meg, in high joy, protested he should say, in half a 
minute more, it was the best tripe ever stewed. 

" And so," said Meg, busying herself exultingly with the basket, " I'll 
lay the cloth at once, father ; for I have brought the tripe in a basin and 
tied the basin up in a pocket-handkerchief ; and if I like to be proud for 
once, and spread that for a cloth, and caU it a cloth, there's no law to 
prevent me ; is there, father ? " 

" Not that I know of, my dear," said Toby. " But they're always a 
bringing up some new law or other." 

" And according to what I was reading you in the paper the other day, 
father ; what the judge said, you know ; we poor people are supposed 
to know them all. Ha, ha ! What a mistake ! My goodness me, how 
clever they think us ! " 

" Yes, my dear," cried Trotty ; " and they'd be very fond of any one 
of us that did know 'em all. He'd grow fat upon the work he'd get, that 
man, and be popular with the gentlefolks in his neighbourhood. Very 
much so ! " 

" He'd eat his dinner with an appetite, whoever he was, if it smelt like 
this," said Meg, cheerfully. " Make haste, for there's a hot potato 
beside, and half a pint of fresh-drawn beer in a bottle. Where will you 
dine, father ? On the Post, or on the Steps ? Dear, dear, how grand 
we are. Two places to choose from ! " 

" The Steps to-day, my pet," said Trotty. " Steps in dry weather. 
Posts in wet. There's a greater convenience in the Steps at all times, 
because of the sitting down ; but they're rheumatic in the damp." 

" Then here," said Meg, clapping her hands, after a moment's bustle ; 
" here it is, all ready ! And beautiful it looks ! Come, father. Come ! " 

Since his discovery of the contents of the basket,Trotty had been stand- 
ing looking at her — and had been speaking too — in an abstracted manner, 
which showed that though she was the object of his thoughts and eyes, 
to the exclusion even of tripe, he neither saw nor thought about her as 
she was at that moment, but had before him some imaginary rough 

cc. c 



66 THE CHIMES 

sketch or drama o£ her future Hfe. Roused, now, by her cheerful 
summons, he shook off a melancholy shake of the head which was just 
coming upon him, and trotted to her side. As he was stooping to sit 
down, the Chimes rang. 

" Amen ! " said Trotty, pulling off his hat and looking up towards 
them. 

" Amen to the Bells, father .? " cried Meg. 

" They broke in like a grace, my dear," said Trotty, taking his seat 
" They'd say a good one, I am sure, if they could. Many's the kind 
thing they say to me." 

" The Bells do, father ! " laughed Meg, as she set the basin, and a knife 
and fork before him. " Well ! " 

" Seem to, my pet," said Trotty, falling to with great vigour. " And 
where's the difference ? If I hear 'em, what does it matter whether 
they speak it or not ? Why bless you, my dear," said Toby, pointing 
at the tower with his fork, and becoming more animated under the 
influence of dinner, " how often have I heard them bells say, ' Toby 
Veck, Toby Veck, keep a good heart, Toby ! Toby Veck, Toby 
Veck, keep a good heart, Toby ! ' A million times ? More ! " 

" Well, I never ! " cried Meg. 

She had, though — over and over again. For it was Toby's constant 
topic. 

" When things is very bad," said Trotty ; " very bad indeed, I mean ; 
almost at the worst ; then it's ' Toby Veck, Toby Veck, job coming 
soon, Toby ! Toby Veck, Toby Veck, job coming soon, Toby ! ' 
That way." 

" And it comes — at last, father," said Meg, with a touch of sadness in 
her pleasant voice. 

" Always," answered the unconscious Toby. " Never fails." 

While this discourse was holding, Trotty made no pause in his attack 
upon the savoury meat before him, but cut and ate, and cut and drank, 
and cut and chewed, and dodged about,f rom tripe to hot potato, and from 
hot potato back again to tripe, with an unctuous and unflagging rehsh. 
But happening now to look all round the street — in case anybody should 
be beckoning from any door or window, for a porter — his eyes, in coming 
back again, encountered Meg : sitting opposite to him, with her arms 
folded : and only busy in watching his progress with a smile of happiness. 

" Why, Lord forgive me ! " said Trotty, dropping his knife and fork. 
" My dove ! Meg ! why didn't you tell me what a beast I was ? " 

" Father ? " 

" Sitting here," said Trotty, in penitent explanation, " cramming, 
and stuffing, and gorging myself ; and you before me there, never so 
much as breaking your precious fast, nor wanting to, when " 

" But I have broken it, father," interposed his daughter, laughing, 
" all to bits. I have had my dinner." 

" Nonsense," said Trotty. '" Two dinners in one day ! It ain't 



THE CHIMES (,j 

possible ! You might as well tell me that two New Year's Days will come 
together, or that I have had a gold head all my life, and never changed it."' 
" I have had my dinner, father, for all that," said Meg, coming nearer 
to him. " And if you'll go on with yours, I'll tell you how and where ;- 
and how your dinner came to be brought ; and — and something else 
besides." 

Toby still appeared incredulous ; but she looked into his face with her 
clear eyes, and laying her hand upon his shoulder, motioned him to go 
on while the meat was hot. So Trotty took up his knife and fork again, 
and went to work. But much more slowly than before, and shaking 
his head, as if he were not at all pleased with himself. 

" I had my dinner, father," said Meg, after a Httle hesitation," with — 
with Richard. His dinner-time was early ; and as he brought his dinner 
with him when he came to see me, we — we had it together, father." 

Trotty took a httle beer, and smacked his lips. Then he said " Oh ! " 
— because she waited. 

" And Richard says, father " Meg resumed. Then stopped. 

" What does Richard say, Meg ? " asked Toby. 

" Richard says, father " Another stoppage. 

" Richard's a long time saying it," said Toby. 

" He says then, father," Meg continued, hfting up her eyes at last, and 
speaking in a tremble, but quite plainly ; " another year is nearly gone,, 
and where is the use of waiting on from year to year, when it is so unlikely 
we shall ever be better off than we are now ? He says we are poor now, 
father, and we shall be poor then ; but we are young now, and years will 
make us old before we know it. He says that if we wait : people in our 
condition : until we see our way quite clearly, the way will be a narrow 
one indeed — the common way — the Grave, father." 

A bolder man than Trotty Veck must needs have drawn upon his 
boldness largely, to deny it. Trotty held his peace. 

" And how hard, father, to grow old, and die, and think we might 
have cheered and helped each other ! How hard in all our lives to love- 
each other ; and to grieve, apart, to see each other working, changing^ 
growing old and grey. Even if I got the better of it, and forgot him 
(which I never could), oh father dear, how hard to have a heart so full as 
mine is now, and live to have it slowly drained out every drop, without 
the recollection of one happy moment of a woman's life, to stay behind 
and comfort me, and make me better ! " 

Trotty sat quite still. Meg dried her eyes, and said more gaily : that 
is to say, with here a laugh, and there a sob, and here a laugh and sob 
together : 

" So Richard says, father ; as his work was yesterday made certain 
for some time to come, and as I love him and have loved him full three 
years — ah ! longer than that, if he knew it ! — will I marry him on New 
Year's Day ; the best and happiest day, he says, in the whole year, and 
one that is almost sure to bring good fortune with it. It's a short 



68 THE CHIMES 

notice, father — isn't it ? — but I haven't my fortune to be settled, or my 
wedding dresses to be made, Hke the great ladies, father — ^have I ? And 
he said so much, and said it in his way ; so strong and earnest, and all the 
time so kind and gentle ; that I said I'd come and talk to you, father. 
And as they paid the money for that work of mine this morning (unex- 
pectedly, I am sure !), and as you have fared very poorly for a whole week, 
and as I couldn't help wishing there should be something to make this 
day a sort of holiday to you as well as a dear and happy day to me, father, 
I made a little treat and brought it to surprise you." 

" And see how he leaves it cooling on the step ! " said another voice. 

It was the voice of this same Richard, who had come upon them 
unobserved, and stood before the father and daughter : looking down 
upon them with a face as glowing as the iron on which his stout sledge- 
hammer daily rung. \A handsome, well-made, powerful youngster he 
was ; with eyes that sparkled hke the red-hot droppings from a furnace 
fire ; black hair that curled about his swarthy temples rarely ; and a 
smile — a smile that bore out Meg's eulogium on his style of conversa- 
tion. 

" See how he leaves it cooling on the step ! " said Richard. " Meg 
don't know what he likes. Not she ! " 

Trotty, all action and enthusiasm, immediately reached up his hand 
to Richard, and was going to address him in a great hurry, when the house- 
door opened without any warning, and a footman very nearly put his foot 
in the tripe. 

" Out of the vays here, wiU you ! You must always go and be a 
settin' on our steps, must you ! You can't go and give a turn to none 
of the neighbours never, can't you ! Will you clear the road, or won't 
you ? " 

Strictly speaking, the last question was irrelevant, as they had already 
done it. 

" What's the matter, what's the matter ? " said the gentleman for 
whom the door was opened : coming out of the house at that kind of 
light-heavy pace — that peculiar compromise between a walk and a jog- 
trot — ^with which a gentleman upon the smooth down-hill of hfe, 
wearing creaking boots, a watch-chain, and clean linen, may come out of 
his house : not only without any abatement of his dignity, but with an 
expression of having important and wealthy engagements elsewhere. 
" What's the matter ? What's the matter ? " 

" You're always a being begged, and prayed, upon your bended knees, 
you are," said the footman with great emphasis to Trotty Veck, " to 
let our door-steps be. Why don't you let 'em be .? Can't you let 
'em be ? " 

" There. That'll do, that'll do ! " said the gentleman. " Halloa 
there ! Porter ! " beckoning with his head to Trotty Veck. " Come 
here. What's that ? Your dinner ? " 

" Yes, sir," said Trotter, leaving it behind him in a corner. 



THE CHIMES 69 

" Don't leave it there," exclaimed the gentleman. " Bring it here, 
bring it here. So ! This is your dinner, is it ? " 

" Yes, sir," repeated Trotty, looking, with a fixed eye and a watery 
mouth, at the piece of tripe he had reserved for a last deHcious tit-bit ; 
which the gentleman was now turning over and over on the end of the 
fork. 

Two other gentlemen had come out with him. One was a low- 
spirited gentleman of middle age, of a meagre habit, and a disconsolate 
face ; who kept his hands continually in the pockets of his scanty pepper- 
and-salt trousers, very large and dog's-eared from that custom ; and 
was not particularly well brushed or washed. The other, a full-sized, 
sleek, well-conditioned gentleman, in a blue coat with bright buttons, 
and a white cravat. This gentleman had a very red face, as if an undue 
proportion of the blood in his body were squeezed up into his head ; 
which pcjhaps accounted for his having also the appearance of being 
rather cold about the heart. 

He who had Toby's meat upon the fork, called to the first one by the 
name of Filer ; and they both drew near together. Mr. Filer being 
exceedingly short-sighted, was obHged to go so close to the remnant of 
Toby's dinner before he could make out what it was, that Toby's heart 
leaped up into his mouth. But Mr. Filer didn't eat it. 

" This is a description of animal food. Alderman," said Filer, making 
little punches in it, with a pencil-case," commonly known to the labouring 
population of this country, by the name of tripe." 

The Alderman laughed, and winked ; for he was a merry fellow, 
Alderman Cute. Oh, and a sly fellow too ! A knowing fellow. Up 
to everything. Not to be imposed upon. Deep in the people's hearts ! 
He knew them. Cute did. I beHeve you ! 

" But who eats tripe ? " said Mr. Filer, looking round. " Tripe is 
without an exception the least economical, and the most wasteful 
article of consumption that the markets of this country can by possi- 
bility produce. The loss upon a pound of tripe has been found to be, 
in the boiling, seven-eighths of a fifth more than the loss upon a pound 
of any other animal substance whatever. Tripe is more expensive, 
properly understood, than the hothouse pineapple. Taking into account 
the number of animals slaughtered yearly within the bills of mortality 
alone ; and forming a low estimate of the quantity of tripe which the 
carcases of those animals, reasonably well butchered, would yield ; I 
find that the waste on that amount of tripe, if boiled, would victual a 
garrison of five hundred men for five months of thirty-one days each, and 
a February over. The Waste, the Waste ! " 

Trotty stood aghast, and his legs shook under him. He seemed to have 
starved a garrison of five hundred men with his own hand. 

" Who eats tripe ? " said Mr. Filer, warmly. " Who eats tripe ? " 

Trotty made a miserable bow. 

" You do, do you ? " said Mr. Filer. " Then I'll tell you something. 



70 THE CHIMES 

You snatch your tripe, my friend, out of the mouths of widows and 
orphans." 

" I hope not, sir," said Trotty, faintly. " I'd sooner die of want ! " 

" Divide the amount of tripe before mentioned, Alderman," said Mr. 
Filer, " by the estimated number of existing widows and orphans, and 
the result will be one pennyweight of tripe to each. Not a grain is left 
for that man. Consequently, he's a robber." 

Trotty was so shocked, that it gave him no concern to see the Alderman 
finish the tripe himself. It was a rehef to get rid of it, anyhow. 

" And what do you say ? " asked the Alderman, jocosely, of the red- 
faced gentleman in the blue coat. " You have heard friend Filer. 
What do you say .? " 

*' What's it possible to say ? " returned the gentleman. " What is 
to be said t Who can take any interest in a fellow like this," meaning 
Trotty ; " in such degenerate times as these ? Look at him ! What an 
object ! The good old times, the grand old times, the great old times ! 
Those were the times for a bold peasantry, and all that sort of thing. 
Those were the times for every sort of thing, in fact. There's nothing 
now-a-days. Ah ! " sighed the red-faced gentleman. " The good old 
times, the good old times ! " 

The gentleman didn't specify what particular times he alluded to ; 
nor did he say whether he objected to the present times, from a disin- 
terested consciousness that they had done nothing very remarkable in 
producing himself. 

" The good old times, the good old times," repeated the gentleman. 
" What times they were ! They were the only times. It's of no use 
talking about any other times, or discussing what the people are in these 
times. You don't call these, times, do you .? I don't. Look into 
Strutt's Costumes, and see what a Porter used to be, in any of the good old 
English reigns." 

" He hadn't, in his very best circumstances, a shirt to his back, or a 
stocking to his foot ; and there was scarcely a vegetable in all England 
for him to put into his mouth," said Mr. Filer. " I can prove it, by 
tables." 

But still the red-faced gentleman extolled the good old times, the grand 
old times, the great old times. No matter what anybody else said, he 
still went turning round and round in one set form of words concerning 
them ; as a poor squirrel turns and turns in its revolving cage ; touching 
the mechanism, and trick of which, it has probably quite as distinct 
perceptions, as ever this red-faced gentleman had of his deceased 
Millennium. 

It is possible that poor old Trotty's faith in these very vague Old Times 
was not entirely destroyed, for he felt vague enough at that moment. 
One thing, however, was plain to him, in the midst of his distress ; to 
v^dt, that however these gentlemen might differ in details, his misgivings 
of that morning, and of many other mornings, were well founded. " No, 



THE CHIMES 71 

no. We can't go right or do right," thought Trotty in despair. "There 
is no good in us. We are born bad ! " 

But Trotty had a father's heart within him ; which had somehow 
got into his breast in spite of this decree ; and he could not bear that 
Meg, in the blush of her brief joy, should have her fortune read by these 
wise gentlemen. " God help her," thought poor Trotty. " She will 
know it soon enough." 

He anxiously signed, therefore, to the young smith, to take her away. 
But he was so busy, talking to her softly at a little distance, that he 
only became conscious of this desire, simultaneously with Alderman 
Cute. Now, the Alderman had not yet had his say, but he was a philo- 
sopher, too — practical, though ! Oh, very practical ! — and, as he had 
no idea of losing any portion of his audience, he cried " Stop ! " 

" Now, you know," said the Alderman, addressing his two friends, 
with a self-complacent smile upon his face which was habitual to him, 
" I am a plain man, and a practical man ; and I go to work in a plain 
practical way. That's my way. There is not the least mystery or 
difficulty in dealing with this sort of people if you only understand 'em, 
and can talk to 'em in their own manner. Now, you Porter ! Don't you 
ever tell me, or anybody else, my friend, that you haven't always enough 
to eat, and of the best ; because I know better. I have tasted your 
tripe, you know, and you can't ' chaff ' me. You understand what 
' chaff ' means, eh ? That's the right word, isn't it ? Ha, ha, ha ! 
Lord bless you," said the Alderman, turning to his friends again, " it's 
the easiest thing on earth to deal with this sort of people, if you under- 
stand 'em." 

Famous man for the common people. Alderman Cute ! Never out 
of temper with them ! Easy, affable, joking, knowing gentleman ! 

" You see, my friend," pursued the Alderman, " there's a great deal 
of nonsense talked about Want — ' hard up,' you know : that's the 
phrase, isn't it ? ha ! ha ! ha ! — and I intend to Put it Down. There's a 
certain amount of cant in vogue about Starvation, and I mean to Put it 
Down ! That's all ! Lord bless you," said the Alderman, turning to 
his friends again, " you may Put Down anything among this sort of people, 
if you only know the way to set about it ! " 

Trotty took Meg's hand and drew it through his arm. He didn't 
seem to know what he was doing though. 

" Your daughter, eh ? " said the Alderman, chucking her famiHarly 
under the chin. 

Always affable with the working classes. Alderman Cute ! Knew 
what pleased them ! Not a bit of pride ! 

" Where's her mother ? " asked that worthy gentleman. 
" Dead," said Toby. " Her mother got up linen ; and was called to 
Heaven when She was born." 

" Not to get up linen there, I suppose," remarked the Alderman 
pleasantly. 



72 THE CHIMES 

Toby might or might not have been able to separate his wife in Heaven 
from her old pursuits. But query : If Mrs. Alderman Cute had gone to 
Heaven, would Mr. Alderman Cute have pictured her as holding any 
state or station there ? " 

" And you're making love to her, are you ?" said Cute to the young 
smith. 

" Yes," returned Richard quickly, for he was nettled by the question. 
" And we are going to be married on New Year's Day." 

" What do you mean ? " cried Filer sharply. " Married ! " 

" Why, yes, we're thinking of it, master," said Richard. " We're 
rather in a hurry, you see, in case it should be Put Down first." 

" Ah ! " cried Filer, with a groan. " Put that down indeed. Alderman, 
and you'll do something. Married ! Married ! The ignorance of the 
first principles of poUtical economy on the part of these people ; their 
improvidence ; their wickedness ; is, by Heavens ! enough to — Now look 
at that couple, will you ? " 

Well ! They were worth looking at. And marriage seemed as reason- 
able and fair a deed as they need have in contemplation. 

" A man may live to be as old as Methusaleh," said Mr. Filer, " and 
may labour all his hfe for the benefit of such people as those ; and may 
heap up facts on figures, facts on figures, facts on figures, mountains high 
and dry ; and he can no more hope to persuade 'em that they have no 
right or business to be married, than he can hope to persuade 'em that 
they have no earthly right or business to be born. And that we know 
they haven't. We reduced it to a mathematical certainty long ago." 

Alderman Cute was mightily diverted, and laid his right fore-finger 
on the side of his nose, as much as to say to both his friends, " Observe 
me, will you ! Keep your eye on the practical man ! " — and called Meg 
to him. 

" Come here, my girl ! " said Alderman Cute. 

The young blood of her lover had been mounting, wrathfully, within 
the last few minutes ; and he was indisposed to let her come. But, 
setting a constraint upon himself, he came forward with a stride as Meg 
approached, and stood beside her. Trotty kept her hand within his 
arm still, but looked from face to face as wildly as a sleeper in a dream. 

" Now, I'm going to give you a word or two of good advice, my girl," 
said the Alderman, in his nice easy way. " It's my place to give advice, 
you know, because I'm a Justice. You know I'm a Justice, don't 
you ? " 

Meg timidly said, " Yes." But everybody knew Alderman Cute was 
a Justice ! Oh dear, so active a Justice always ! Who such a mote of 
brightness in the pubHc eye, as Cute ! 

" You are going to be married, you say," pursued the Alderman. 
" Very unbecoming and indelicate in one of your sex ! But never mind 
that. After you are married, you'll quarrel with your husband, and come 
to be a distressed wife. You may think not : but you will, because I tell 



THE CHIMES 73 

you so. Now, I give you fair warning, that I have made up my mind to 
Put distressed wives Down. So, don't be brought before me. You'll 
have children — boys. Those boys will grow up bad of course, and run 
wild in the streets, without shoes and stockings. Mind, my young 
fr end ! I'll convict 'em summarily, every one, for I am determined to 
Put boys without shoes and stockings, Down. Perhaps your husband 
will die young (most hkely) and leave you with a baby. Then you'll 
be turned out of doors, and wander up and down the streets. Now, 
don't wander near me, my dear, for I am resolved to Put all wandering 
mothers Down. All young mothers, of all sorts and kinds, it's my 
determination to Put Down. Don't think to plead illness as an excuse 
with me ; or babies as an excuse with me ; for all sick persons and young 
children (I hope you know the Church Service, but I'm afraid not) I am 
determined to Put Down. And if you attempt, desperately, and ungrate- 
fully, and impiously, and fraudulently attempt, to drown yourself, or 
hang yourself, I'll have no pity on you, for I have made up my mind to 
Put all suicide Down. If there is one thing," said the Alderman, with 
his self-satisfied smile, " on which I can be said to have made up my mind 
more than on another, it is to Put suicide down. So don't try it on. 
That's the phrase, isn't it ! Ha, ha ! now we understand each other." 

Toby knew not whether to be agonised or glad to see that Meg had 
turned a deadly white, and dropped her lover's hand. 

" As for you, you dull dog," said the Alderman, turning with even 
increased cheerfulness and urbanity to the young smith, " what are you 
thinking of being married for ? What do you want to be married for, 
you silly fellow ? If I was a fine, young, strapping chap like you, I 
should be ashamed of being milksop enough to pin myself to a woman's 
apron-strings ! Why, she'll be an old woman before you're a middle- 
aged man ! And a pretty figure you'll cut then, with a draggle-tailed 
wife and a crowd of squalhng children crying after you wherever you go 1 " 

O, he knew how to banter the common people, Alderman Cute ! 

" There ! Go along with you," said the Alderman, " and repent. 
Don't make such a fool of yourself as to get married on New Year's Day. 
You'll think very differently of it long before next New Year's Day ; a 
trim young fellow like you, with all the girls looking after you. There ! 
Go along with you ! " They went along. Not arm in arm, or hand in 
hand, or interchanging bright glances : but she in tears, he gloomy and 
down-looking. Were these the hearts that had so lately made old 
Toby's leap up from its faintness ? No, no. The Alderman (a blessing 
on his head !) had Put them Down. 

" As you happen to be here," said the Alderman to Toby, " you shall 
carry a letter for me. Can you be quick ? You're an old man." 

Toby, who had been looking after Meg, quite stupidly, made shift to 
murmur out that he was very quick, and very strong. 

" How old are you ? " inquired the Alderman. 

" I'm over sixty, sir," said Toby. 



74 THECHIMES 

" O ! This man's a great deal past the average age, you know," cried 
Mr. Filer, breaking in as if his patience would bear some trying, but this 
really was carrying matters a Httle too far. 

" I feel I'm intruding, sir," said Toby. " I — I misdoubted it this 
morning. Oh dear me ! " 

The Alderman cut him short by giving him the letter from his pocket. 
Toby would have got a shilling too ; but Mr. Filer clearly showing that 
in that case he would rob a certain given number of persons of nine pence- 
halfpenny apiece, he only got sixpence ; and thought himself very well 
off to get that. 

Then the Alderman gave an arm to each of his friends, and walked off 
in high feather ; but he immediately came hurrying back alone, as if he 
had forgotten something. 

" Porter ! " said the Alderman. 

" Sir ! " said Toby. 

" Take care of that daughter of yours. She's much too handsome." 

" Even her good looks are stolen from somebody or other I suppose," 
thought Toby, looking at the sixpence in his hand, and thinking of the 
tripe. " She's been and robbed five hundred ladies of a bloom a-piece, 
I shouldn't wonder. It's very dreadful ! " 

" She's much too handsome, my man," repeated the Alderman. " The 
chances are, that she'll come to no good, I clearly see. Observe what I 
say. Take care of her ! " With which, he hurried off again 

" Wrong every way. Wrong every way ! " said Trotty, clasping his 
hands. " Born bad. No business here ! " 

The Chimes came clashing in upon him as he said the words. Full, 
loud, and sounding — but with no encouragement. No, not a drop. 

" The tune's changed," cried the old man, as he Hstened. " There's 
not a word of all that fancy in it. Why should there be ? I have no 
business with the New Year nor with the old one neither. Let me 
die!" 

Still the Bells, peaUng forth their changes, made the very air spin. 
Put 'em down. Put 'em down ! Good old Times, Good old Times ! 
Facts and Figures, Facts and Figures ! Put 'em down, Put 'em down ! 
If they said anything they said this, till the brain of Toby reeled. 

He pressed his bewildered head between his hands, as if to keep it from 
splitting asunder. A well-timed action, as it happened ; for finding the 
letter in one of them, and being by that means reminded of his charge, 
he fell, mechanically, into his usual trot, and trotted off. 



THE SECOND QUARTER 

The letter Toby had received from Alderman Cute, was addressed 
to a great man in the great district of the town. The greatest district of 
the town. It must have been the greatest district of the town, because 
it was commonly called The World by its inhabitants. 



THE CHIMES 75 

The letter positively seemed heavier in Toby's hand, than another 
letter. Not because the Alderman had sealed it vi^ith a very large coat 
of arms and no end of wax, but because of the weighty name on the super- 
scription, and the ponderous amount of gold and silver with which it was 
associated. 

" How different from us ! " thought Toby, in all simplicity and earnest- 
ness, as he looked at the direction. " Divide the lively turtles in the bills 
of mortality, by the number of gentlefolks able to buy 'em ; and whose 
share does he take but his own ! As to snatching tripe from anybody's 
mouth — he'd scorn it ! " 

With the involuntary homage due to such an exalted character, 
Toby interposed a corner of his apron between the letter and his 
fingers. 

" His children," said Trotty, and a mist rose before his eyes ; " his 
daughters — Gentlemen may win their hearts and marry them ; they 
may be happy vnves and mothers ; they may be handsome Hke my darling 
M— e " 

He couldn't finish the name. The final letter swelled in his throat, to 
the size of the whole alphabet. 

" Never mind," thought Trotty. " I know what I mean. That's 
more than enough for me." And with this consolatory rumination, 
trotted on. 

It was a hard frost, that day. The air was bracing, crisp, and clear. 
The wintry sun, though powerless for warmth, looked brightly down 
upon the ice it was too weak to melt, and set a radiant glory there. At 
other times, Trotty might have learned a poor man's lesson from the 
wintry sun ; but he was past that now. 

The Year was Old that day. The patient Year had lived through the 
reproaches and misuses of its slanderers, and faithfully performed its 
work. Spring, summer, autumn, winter. It had laboured through the 
destined round, and now laid down its weary head to die. Shut out 
from hope, high impulse, active happiness, itself, but active messenger 
of many joys to others, it made appeal in its decHne to have its toiHng 
days and patient hours remembered, and to die in peace. Trotty might 
have read a poor man's allegory in the fading year ; but he was past that 
now. 

And only he ? Or has the Hke appeal been ever made by seventy years 
at once upon an English labourer's head, and made in vain ! 

The streets were full of motion, and the shops were decked out gaily. 
The New Year, like an Infant Heir to the whole world, was waited for, 
with welcomes, presents, and rejoicings. There were books and toys 
for the New Year, gHttering trinkets for the New Year, dresses for the 
New Year, schemes of fortune for the New Year ; new inventions to 
beguile it. Its life was parcelled out in almanacks and pocket-books ; 
the coming of its moons, and stars, and tides, was known beforehand 
to the moment ; all the workings of its seasons in their days and nights. 



76 THE CHIMES 

were calculated with as much precision as Mr. Filer could work sums in 
men and women. 

The New Year, the New Year. Everywhere the New Year ! The 
Old Year was already looked upon as dead ; and its effects were selling 
cheap, like some drowned mariner's aboard ship. Its patterns were 
Last Year's and going at a sacrifice, before its breath was gone. Its 
treasures were mere dirt, beside the riches of its unborn successor ! 

Trotty had no portion, to his thinking, in the New Year or the Old. 

" Put 'em down. Put 'em down ! Facts and Figures, Facts and 
Figures ! Good old Times, Good old Times ! Put 'em down, Put 'em 
down ! " — ^his trot went to that measure, and would fit itself to nothing 
else. 

But even that one, melancholy as it was, brought him, in due time, 
to the end of his journey. To the mansion of Sir Joseph Bowley, Member 
of ParHament. 

The door was opened by a Porter. Such a Porter ! Not of Toby's 
order. Quite another thing. His place was the ticket though ; not 
Toby's. 

This Porter underwent some hard panting before he could speak ; 
having breathed himself by coming incautiously out of his chair, without 
first taking time to think about it and compose his mind. When he had 
found his voice — which it took him some time to do, for it was a long 
way off, and hidden under a load of meat — he said in a fat whisper, 

" Who's it from ? " 

Toby told him. 

" You're to take it in, yourself," said the Porter, pointing to a room at 
the end of a long passage, opening from the hall. " Everything goes 
straight in, on this day of the year. You're not a bit too soon, for the 
carriage is at the door now, and they have only come to town for a couple 
of hours, a' purpose." 

Toby wiped his feet (which were quite dry already) with great care, 
and took the way pointed out to him ; observing as he went that it was 
an av^rfully grand house, but hushed and covered up, as if the family were 
in the country. Knocking at the room door, he was told to enter from 
within ; and doing so found himself in a spacious hbrary, where, at a 
table strewn v^dth files and papers, were a stately lady in a bonnet ; and 
a not very stately gentleman in black who wrote from her dictation ; 
while another, and an older, and a much stateher gentleman, whose hat 
and cane were on the table, walked up and down, with one hand in his 
breast, and looked complacently from time to time at his own picture — 
full length ; a very full length — hanging over the fireplace. 

" What is this ? " said the last-named gentleman. " Mr. Fish, will 
you have the goodness to attend ? " 

Mr. Fish begged pardon, and taking the letter from Toby, handed it, 
with great respect. 

" From Alderman Cute, Sir Joseph." 



THE CHIMES -j^ 

" Is this all ? Have you nothing else, Porter ? " inquired Sir Joseph. 
Toby replied in the negative. 

" You have no bill or demand upon me ; my name is Bowley, Sir 
Joseph Bowley ; o£ any kind from anybody, have you ? " said Sir Joseph. 
" If you have present it. There is a cheque-book by the side of Mr. 
Fish. I allow nothing to be carried into the New Year. Every des- 
cription of account is settled in this house at the close of the old one. 

So that if death was to — to " 

" To cut," suggested Mr. Fish. 

" To sever, sir," returned Sir Joseph, with great asperity, " the cord 
of existence — my affairs would be found, I hope, in a state of prepara- 
tion." 

" My dear Sir Joseph ! " said the lady, who was greatly younger than 
the gentleman. " How shocking ! " 

" My Lady Bowley," returned Sir Joseph, floundering now and then, 
as in the great depth of his observations, " at this season of the year we 
should think of — of — ourselves. We should look into our — our accounts. 
We should feel that every return of so eventful a period in human tran- 
sactions, involves matters of deep moment between a man and his — and 
his banker." 

Sir Joseph delivered these words as if he felt the full moraHty of what 
he was saying ; and desired that even Trotty should have an oppor- 
tunity of being improved by such discourse. Possibly he had this end 
before him in still forbearing to break the seal of the letter, and in telling 
Trotty to wait where he was, a minute. 

" You were desiring Mr. Fish to say, my lady," observed Sir Joseph. 
" Mr. Fish has said that, I beheve," returned his lady, glancing at the 
letter. " But, upon my word, Sir Joseph, I don't think I can let it go 
after all. It is so very dear." 

" What is dear ? " inquired Sir Joseph. 

" That Charity, my love. They only allow two votes for a subscription 
of five pounds. Really monstrous ! " 

" My Lady Bowley," returned Sir Joseph, " you surprise me. Is the 
luxury of feeling in proportion to the number of votes ; or is it, to a 
rightly constituted mind, in proportion to the number of applicants, and 
the wholesome state of mind to which their canvassing reduces them } 
Is there no excitement of the purest kind in having two votes to dispose 
of among fifty people ? " 

" Not to me, I acknowledge," replied the lady. " It bores one. 
Besides, one can't oblige one's acquaintance. But you are the Poor Man's 
Friend, you know. Sir Joseph. You think otherwise." 

" I am the Poor Man's Friend," observed Sir Joseph, glancing at the 
poor man present. " As such I may be taunted. As such I have been 
taunted. But I ask no other title." 

" Bless him for a noble gentleman ! " thought Trotty. 

" I don't agree with Cute here, for instance," said Sir Joseph, holding 



78 THE CHIMES 

out the letter. " I don't agree with the Filer party. I don't agree with 
any party. My friend the Poor Man, has no business with anything of 
that sort, and nothing of that sort has any business with him. My friend 
the Poor Man, in my district, is my business. No man or body of men 
has any right to interfere between my friend and me. That is the ground 
I take. I assume a — a paternal character towards my friend. I say, 
* My good fellow, I will treat you paternally.' " 

Toby Hstened with great gravity, and began to feel more comfortable. 

" Your only business, my good fellow," pursued Sir Joseph, looking 
abstractly at Toby ; " your only business in life is with me. You 
needn't trouble yourself to think about anything. I will think for you ; 
I know what is good for you ; I am your perpetual parent. Such is the 
dispensation of an all-wise Providence ! Now, the design of your crea- 
tion is : not that you should swill, and guzzle, and associate your 
enjoyments, brutally, v^dth food " — Toby thought remorsefully of the 
tripe — " but that you should feel the Dignity of Labour ; go forth 
erect into the cheerful morning air, and — and stop there. Live hard 
and temperately, be respectful, exercise your self-denial, bring up your 
family on next to nothing, pay your rent as regularly as the clock strikes, 
be punctual in your dealings (I set you a good example ; you will find 
Mr. Fish, my confidential secretary, with a cash-box before him at all 
times) ; and you may trust me to be your Friend and Father." 

" Nice children, indeed. Sir Joseph ! " said the lady, with a shudder. 
" Rheumatisms, and fevers, and crooked legs, and asthmas, and all kinds 
of horrors ! " 

" My lady," returned Sir Joseph, with solemnity, " not the less am I 
the Poor Man's Friend and Father. Not the less shall he receive 
encouragement at my hands. Every quarter-day he will be put in 
communication with Mr. Fish. Every New Year's Day myself and 
friends will drink his health. Once every year, myself and friends wiD 
address him with the deepest feeling. Once in his Hfe, he may even 
perhaps receive ; in pubHc, in the presence of the gentry ; a Trifle from 
a Friend. And when, upheld no more by these stimulants, and the 
Dignity of Labour, he sinks into his comfortable grave, then my lady " 
— here Sir Joseph blew his nose — " I will be a Friend and Father — on the 
same terms — to his children." 

Toby was greatly moved. 

" Oh ! You have a thankful family, Sir Joseph ! " cried his wife. 

" My lady," said Sir Joseph, quite majestically, " Ingratitude is known 
to be the sin of that class. I expect no other return." 

" Ah ! Born bad ! " thought Toby. " Nothing melts us." 

" What man can do, / do," pursued Sir Joseph. " I do my duty as the 
Poor Man's Friend and Father ; and I endeavour to educate his mind, 
by inculcating on all occasions the one great moral lesson which that class 
requires. That is, entire Dependence on myself. They have no business 
whatever with — ^with themselves. If wicked and designing persons tell 



THE CHIMES 79 

them otherwise, and they become impatient and discontented, and are 
guilty of insubordinate conduct and black-hearted ingratitude ; which is 
undoubtedly the case ; I am their Friend and Father still. It is so 
Ordained. It is the nature of things." 

With that great sentiment, he opened the Alderman's letter ; and 
read it. 

" Very poHte and attentive, I am sure ! " exclaimed Sir Joseph. " My 
lady, the Alderman is so obliging as to remind me that he has had * the 
distinguished honour ' — he is very good — of meeting me at the house of 
our mutual friend Deedles, the banker ; and he does me the favour to 
inquire whether it will be agreeable to me to have Will Fern put 
down." 

" Most agreeable ! " replied my Lady Bowley. " The worst man 
among them ! He has been committing a robbery, I hope ? " 

" Why no," said Sir Joseph, referring to the letter. " Not quite. 
Very near. Not quite. He came up to London, it seems, to look for 
employment (to better himself — that's his story), and being found at 
night asleep in a shed, was taken into custody and carried next morning 
before the Alderman. The Alderman observes (very properly) that he 
is determined to put this sort of thing down ; and that if it v^dll be 
agreeable to me to have Will Fern put down, he will be happy to begin 
with him." 

" Let him be made an example of, by all means," returned the lady. 
" Last winter, when I introduced pinking and eyelet-hoHng among the 
men and boys in the village, as a nice evening employment, and had the 
lines, 

let us love our occupations. 

Bless the squire and his relations. 

Live upon our daily rations, ^ 

And always know our proper stations. 

set to music on the new system, for them to sing the while ; this very 
Fern — I see him now — touched that hat of his, and said, * I humbly 
ask your pardon, my lady, but ain^t I something different from a great 
girl ? ' I expected it, of course ; who can expect anything but insolence 
and ingratitude from that class of people ! That is not to the purpose, 
however. Sir Joseph ! Make an example of him ! " 

" Hem ! " coughed Sir Joseph. " Mr. Fish, if you'U have the goodness 
to attend " 

Mr. Fish immediately seized his pen, and wrote from Sir Joseph's 
dictation. 

" Private. My dear sir. I am very much indebted to you for your 
courtesy in the matter of the man William Fern, of whom, I regret to 
add, I can say nothing favourable. I have uniformly considered myself 
in the Hght of his Friend and Father, but have been repaid (a common 
case I grieve to say) with ingratitude, and constant opposition to my 



8o THE CHIMES 

plans. He is a turbulent and rebellious spirit. His character will not 
bear investigation. Nothing will persuade him to be happy when he 
might. Under these circumstances, it appears to me, I own, that when 
he comes before you again (as you informed me he promised to do 
to-morrow, pending your inquiries, and I think he may be so far rehed 
upon), his committal for some short term as a Vagabond, would be a 
service to society, and would be a salutary example in a country where — 
for the sake of those who are, through good and evil report, the Friends 
and Fathers of the Poor, as well as with a view to that, generally speaking, 
misguided class themselves — examples are greatly needed. And I am," 
and so forth. 

" It appears," remarked Sir Joseph when he had signed this letter, 
and Mr. Fish was seahng it, " as if this were Ordained : really. At the 
close of the year, I wind up my account and strike my balance, even with 
William Fern ! " 

Trotty, who had long ago relapsed, and was very low-spirited, stepped 
forward with a rueful face to take the letter. 

" With my compliments and thanks," said Sir Joseph. " Stop ! " 
" Stop ! " echoed Mr. Fish. 

" You have heard, perhaps," said Sir Joseph, oracularly, " certain 
remarks into which I have been led respecting the solemn period of 
time at which we have arrived, and the duty imposed upon us of settling 
our affairs, and being prepared. You have observed that I don't shelter 
myself behind my superior standing in society, but that Mr. Fish — that 
gentleman — has a cheque-book at his elbow, and is in fact here, to enable 
me to turn over a perfectly new leaf, and enter on the epoch before us 
with a clean account. Now, my friend, can you lay your hand upon 
your heart, and say that you also have made preparations for a New 
Year ? " 

" I am afraid, sir," stammered Trotty, looking meekly at him, " that 
I am a — a — little behindhand with the world." 

" Behindhand with the world ! " repeated Sir Joseph Bowley, in a tone 
of terrible distinctness. 

" I am afraid, sir," faltered Trotty, " that there's a matter of ten or 
twelve shillings owing to Mrs. Chickenstalker." 

" To Mrs. Chickenstalker ! " repeated Sir Joseph, in the same tone as 
before. 

" A shop, sir," exclaimed Toby, " in the general Hne. Also a — a little 
money on account of rent. A very little, sir. It oughtn't to be owing, 
I know, but we have been hard put to it, indeed ! " 

Sir Joseph looked at his lady, and at Mr. Fish, and at Trotty, one after 
another, twice all round. He then made a despondent gesture with both 
hands at- once, as if he gave the thing up altogether. 

" How a man, even among this improvident and impracticable race ; 
an old man ; a man grown grey ; can look a New Year in the face, with 
his affairs in this condition ; how he can lie down on his bed at night, and 



THE CHIMES 8i 

get up again in the morning, and — ^There ! " he said, turning his back 
on Trotty. " Take the letter. Take the letter ! " 

" I heartily wish it was otherwise, sir," said Trotty, anxious to excuse 
himself. " We have been tried very hard." 

Sir Joseph still repeating " Take the letter, take the letter ! " and 
Mr. Fish not only saying the same thing, but giving additional force to 
the request by motioning the bearer to the door, he had nothing for it 
but to make his bow and leave the house. And in the street, poor Trotty 
pulled his worn old hat down on his head, to hide the grief he felt at 
getting no hold on the New Year, anywhere. 

He didn't even hft his hat to look up at the Bell tower when he came 
to the old church on his return. He halted there a moment, from habit : 
and knew that it was growing dark, and that the steeple rose above him, 
indistinct and faint, in the murky air. He knew, too, that the Chimes 
would ring immediately ; and that they sounded to his fancy, at such a 
time, Hke voices in the clouds. But he only made the more haste to 
deliver the Alderman's letter, and get out of the way before they began ; 
for he dreaded to hear them tagging " Friends and Fathers, Friends and 
Fathers," to the burden they had rung out last. 

Toby discharged himself of his commission, therefore, with all possible 
speed, and set off trotting homeward. But what with his pace, which was 
at best an awkward one in the street ; and what vdth his hat, which 
didn't improve it ; he trotted against somebody in less than no time, and 
was sent staggering out into the road. 

" I beg your pardon, I'm sure ! " said Trotty, pulling up his hat in 
great confusion, and between the hat and the torn Hning, fixing his head 
into a kind of bee-hive. " I hope I haven't hurt you." 

As to hurting anybody, Toby was not such an absolute Samson, but 
that he was much more likely to be hurt himself : and indeed, he had 
flown out into the road, like a shuttlecock. He had such an opinion 
of his own strength, however, that he was in real concern for the other 
party : and said again, 

" I hope I haven't hurt you ? " 

The man against whom he had run : a sun-browned, sinewy, country 
looking man, with grizzled hair, and a rough chin ; stared at him for a 
moment, as if he suspected him to be in jest. But satisfied of his good 
faith, he answered : 

" No, friend. You have not hurt me." 

" Nor the child, I hope ? " said Trotty. 

" Nor the child," returned the man. " I thank you kindly." 

As he said so, he glanced at a Uttle girl he carried in his arms, asleep ; 
and shading her face with the long end of the poor handkerchief he wore 
about his throat, went slowly on. 

The tone in which he said " I thank you kindly," penetrated Trotty's 
heart. He was so jaded and foot-sore, and so soiled with travel, and 
looked about him so forlorn and strange, that it was a comfort to him 



82 THE CHIMES 

to be able to thank any one : no matter for how little. Toby stood 
gazing after him as he plodded wearily away : with the child's arm 
clinging round his neck. 

At the figure in the worn shoes — now the very shade and ghost of shoes 
— rough leather leggings, common frock, and broad slouched hat, Trotty 
stood gazing : blind to the whole street. And at the child's arm, 
clinging round its neck. 

Before he merged into the darkness, the traveller stopped ; and 
looking round, and seeing Trotty standing there yet, seemed undecided 
whether to return or go on. After doing first the one and then the 
other, he came back ; and Trotty went half way to meet him. 

" You can tell me, perhaps," said the man with a faint smile, " and 
if you can I am sure you will, and I'd rather ask you than another — 
where Alderman Cute lives." 

" Close at hand," repHed Toby. " I'll show you his house with 
pleasure." 

" I was to have gone to him elsewhere to-morrow," said the man, 
accompanying Toby, " but I'm uneasy under suspicion, and want to 
clear myself, and to be free to go and seek my bread — I don't know where. 
So, maybe he'll forgive my going to his house to-night." 

" It's impossible," cried Toby with a start, " that your name's 
Fern ! " 

" Eh ! " cried the other, turning on him in astonishment. 
" Fern ! WiU Fern ! " said Trotty. 
" That's my name," repHed the other. 

" Why then," cried Trotty, seizing him by the arm, and looking 
cautiously round, " for Heaven's sake don't go to him ! Don't go to 
him ! He'll put you down as sure as ever you were born. Here ! come 
up this alley, and I'll tell you what I mean. Don't go to him.''^ 

His new acquaintance looked as if he thought him mad ; but he bore 
him company nevertheless. When they were shrouded from observa- 
tion, Trotty told him what he knew, and what character he had received, 
and all about it. 

The subject of his history hstened to it with a calmness that surprised 
him. He did not contradict or interrupt it, once. He nodded his head 
now and then — more in corroboration of an old and worn-out story, it 
appeared, than in refutation of it ; and once or twice threw back his 
hat, and passed his freckled hand over a brow, where every furrow he 
had ploughed seemed to have set its image in little. But he did no 
more. 

" It's true enough in the main," he said, " master. I could sift grain 
from husk here and there, but let it be as 'tis. What odds .? I have 
gone against his plans ; to my misfortun'. I can't help it ; I should do 
the like to-morrow. As to character, them gentlefolks will search and 
search, and pry and pry, and have it as free from spot or speck in us, afore 
they'll help us to a dry good word ! Well! I hope they don't lose good 



THECHIJVIES 83 

opinion as easy as we do, or their lives is strict indeed, and hardly worth 
the keeping. For myself, master, I never took with that hand " — 
holding it before him — " what wasn't my own ; and never held it back 
from work, however hard, or poorly paid. Whoever can deny it, let 
him chop it off ! But when work won't maintain me like a human 
creetur ; when my living is so bad, that I am Hungry, out of doors and 
in ; when I see a whole working life begin that way, go on that way, and 
end that way, without a chance or change ; then I say to the gentlefolks 
' Keep away from me ! Let my cottage be. My doors is dark enough 
without your darkening of 'em more. Don't look for me to come up 
into the Park to help the show when there's a Birthday, or a fine Speech- 
making, or what not. Act your Plays and Games without me, and be 
welcome to 'em and enjoy 'em. We've nowt to do with one another. 
I'm best let alone ! ' " 

Seeing that the child in his arms had opened her eyes, and was looking 
about her in wonder, he checked himself to say a word or two of fooHsh 
prattle in her ear, and stand her on the ground beside him. Then 
slowly winding one of her long tresses round and round his rough fore- 
finger like a ring, while she hung about his dusty leg, he said to Trotty, 

" I'm not a cross-grained man by natur', I believe ; and easy satisfied, 
I'm sure. I bear no ill will against none of 'em : I only want to five like 
one of the Almighty's creeturs. I can't, I don't ; and so there's a pit 
dug between me and them that can and do. There's others like me. 
You might tell 'em off by hundreds and by thousands, sooner than by 
ones." 

Trotty knew he spoke the Truth in this, and shook his head to signify as 
much. 

" I've got a bad name this way," said Fern ; " and I'm not likely, I'm 
afeared, to get a better. 'Tan't lav^rful to be out of sorts, and I am out 
of sorts, though God knows I'd sooner bear a cheerful spirit if I could. 
Well ! I don't know as this Alderman could hurt me much by sending me 
to gaol ; but without a friend to speak a word for me, he might do it ; and 
you see — ! " pointing downward with his finger, at the child. 

" She has a beautiful face," said Trotty. 

" Why yes ! " repHed the other in a low voice, as he gently turned 
it up with both his hands towards his own, and looked upon it stead- 
fastly. " I've thought so, many times. I've thought so, when my 
hearth was very cold, and cupboard very bare. I thought so t'other 
night, when we were taken like two thieves. But they — they shouldn't 
try the httle face too often, should they, Lihan ? That's hardly fair 
upon a man ! " 

He sank his voice so low, and gazed upon her with an air so stern and 
strange, that Toby, to divert the current of his thoughts, inquired if his 
wife were living. 

" I never had one," he returned, shaking his head. " She's my brother's 
child : an orphan. Nine year old, though you'd hardly think it ; but 



84 THE CHIMES 

she's tired and worn out now. They'd have taken care on her, the 
Union ; eight-and- twenty mile away from where we Uve ; between 
four walls (as they took care of my old father when he couldn't work no 
more, though he didn't trouble 'em long) ; but I took her mstead, and 
she's Hved with me ever since. Her mother had a friend once, m London 
here. We are trying to find her, and to find work too ;^ but it's a krge 
place. Never mind. More room for us to walk about in, Lilly ! " 

Meeting the child's eyes with a smile which melted Toby more than 
tears, he shook him by the hand. , , t, j 

" I don't so much as know your name," he said, but I ve opened my 
heart free to you, for I'm thankful to you ; with good reason. I'll take 
your advice, and keep clear of this " 

" Justice," suggested Toby. ^ _, . . . 

" Ah ' " he said. " If that's the name they give him. This Justice. 
And to-morrow will try whether there's better fortun' to be met with, 
somewheres near London. Good night. A Happy New Year ! " _ 

" Stay ! " cried Trotty, catching at his hand, as he relaxed his grip. 
" Stay ' The New Year never can be happy to me, if we part hke this. 
The New Year never can be happy to me, if I see the child and you, go 
wandering away, you don't know where, without a shelter for your heads 
Come home with me ! I'm a poor man, living m a poor place ; but 1 
can give you lodging for one night and never miss it. Come home with 
me ' Here ! I'll take her ! " cried Trotty, hfting up the child. A 
pretty one ! I'd carry twenty times her weight, and never know I d 
got it. Tell me if I go too quick for you. I'm very fast. I always 
was ' " Trotty said this, taking about six of his trotting paces to one 
stride of his fatigued companion ; and with his thin legs quivering again, 
beneath the load he bore. . 

" Why, she's as Ught," said Trotty, trotting m his speech as well as m 
his gait • for he couldn't bear to be thanked, and dreaded a moment s 
pause ; " as hght as a feather. Lighter than a Peacock's feather-a 
great deal lighter. Here we are, and here we go ! Round this lirst 
turning to the right, Uncle Will, and past the pump, and sharp off up 
the passage to the left, right opposite the pubHc-house. Here we are 
and here we go ! Cross over. Uncle WiU, and mmd the bdney pieman 
at the corner ! Here we are and here we go ! Down the Mews here. 
Uncle Will, and stop at the black door, with ' T. Veck, Ticket Porter 
wrote upon a board ; and here we are and here we go, and here we are 
indeed, my precious Meg, surprising you ! " ^_ ^^^^ . 

With which words Trotty, in a breathless state, set the child down 
before his daughter in the middle of the floor. The Httle visitor looked 
once at Meg ; and doubting nothing in that face, but trusting everything 
she saw there ; ran into her arms. , 

" Here we are and here we go ! " cried Trotty, runmng round the 
room, and choHng audibly. " Here, Uncle Will! Here's a fire you 
know Why don't you come to the fire ? Oh here we are and here we 



go' 



THE CHIMES 85 

Meg, my precious darHng, where's the kettle ? Here it is and liere 
ft 2oes, and it'll bile in no time ! " , . > 

Tro ty really had picked up the kettle somewhere or other in the course 
of his°ld carJer, and now put it on the fire : whJe Meg, seatmg the chdd 
•n a warm corner, knelt down on the ground before h«, and pulled off her 
shoes and dried her wet feet on a cloth. Ay, and she laughed at Trotty 
to^so pleasantly, so cheerfully, that Trotty could have blessed her 
where she kneeled : for he had seen that, when they entered, she was 
sitting by the fire in tears. t i • i t j ^*. 

" Why, father ! " said Meg. " You're crazy to-mght, I thmk. don t 
know what the Bells would say to that. Poor httle feet. How cold they 

'' "o'h, they're warmer now ! " exclaimed the child. " They're quite 

"^'"Nrno' no," said Meg. "We haven't rubbed 'em half enough. 
We're so busy. So busy ! And when they're done, we U brush out the 
damp hair ; and when that's done, we'll bring some colour to the poor 
pale face With fresh water ; and when that's done, we'U be so gay, and 

' The"hild>^"^si 'of sobbing, dasped her round the neck ; caressed 
her fair cheek with its hand ; and said, " Oh Meg ! oh dear Meg ! 

Toby's blessing could have done no more. Who could do more ! 

" Why, father ! " cried Meg, after a pause. 

" Here I am and here I go, my dear," said Trotty. 

" Good Gracious me ! " cried Meg. " He's crazy ! He s put the 
dear child's bonnet on the kettle, and hung the hd behind the door ! 

" I didn't go to do it, my love," said Trotty, hastily repairing this 
mistake. " Meg, my dear ? " , , , , • j 

Meg looked towards him and saw that he had elaborately stationed 
himself behind the chair of their male visitor, where with many mysterious 
gestures he was holding up the sixpence he had earned 

" I see, my dear," said Trotty, " as I was coming m, half an ounce of 
tea lying somewhere on the stairs ; and I'm pretty sure there was a bit of 
bacon too. As I don't remember where it was, exactly ; I U go myself 

and try to find 'em." , i • j 

With this inscrutable artifice, Toby withdrew to purchase the viands 
he had spoken of, for ready money, at Mrs. Chickenstalker s ; and 
presently came back, pretending he had not been able to find them, at 

first, in the dark. . , . 

"But here they are at last," said Trotty, setting out the tea things, 
" all correct ! I was pretty sure it was tea, and a rasher, bo it is. Meg, 
my pet, if you'll just make the tea, while your unworthy father toasts the 
bacon, we shall be ready, immediate. It's a curious circumstance, said 
Trotty, proceeding in his cookery, with the assistance of the toastmg- 
fork, " curious, but well known to my friends, that I never care, myself 
for rashers, nor for tea. I hke to see other people enjoy em, said 



86 THE CHIMES 

Trotty, speating very loud, to impress the fact upon his guest, " but to 
me, as food, they're disagreeable." 

Yet Trotty sniffed the savour of the hissing bacon — ah ! — as if he Hked 
it ; and when he poured the boiling water in the tea-pot, looked lovingly 
down into the depths of that snug cauldron, and suffered the fragrant 
steam to curl about his nose, and wreathe his head and face in a thick 
cloud. However, for all this, he neither ate nor drank, except at the 
very beginning, a mere morsel for form's sake, which he appeared to 
eat with infinite rehsh, but declared was perfectly uninteresting to him. 

No. Trotty's occupation was, to see Will Fern and Lilian eat and 
drink ; and so was Meg's. And never did spectators at a city dinner or 
court banquet find such high delight in seeing others feast : although it 
were a monarch or a pope : as those two did, in looking on that night. 
Meg smiled at Trotty, Trotty laughed at Meg. Meg shook her head* 
and made belief to clap her hands, applauding Trotty ; Trotty conveyed, 
in dumb-show, unintelligible narratives of how and when and where he 
had found their visitors, to Meg ; and they were happy. Very happy. 

" Although," thought Trotty, sorrowfully, as he watched Meg's face • 
" that match is broken off, I see ! " & » 

" Now, I'll tell you what," said Trotty after tea. " The Httle one, she 
sleeps with Meg, I know." 

" With good Meg ! " cried the child, caressing her. " With Meg." 

" That's right," said Trotty. " And I shouldn't wonder if she' kiss 
Meg's father, won't she .? /'m Meg's father." 

Mightily delighted Trotty was, when the child went timidly towards 
him, and having kissed him, fell back upon Meg again. 

" She's as sensible as Solomon," said Trotty. " Here we come and 
here we— no, we don't— I don't mean that— I— what was I saying, Meg, 
my precious .? " 

Meg looked towards their guest, who leaned upon her chair, and with 
his face turned from her, fondled the child's head, half hidden in her lap. 

" To be sure," said Toby. " To be sure ! I don't know what I'm 
rambhng on about, to-night. My wits are woolgathering, I think. 
Will Fern, you come along with me. You're tired to death, and broken 
down for want of rest. You come along with me." 

The man still played with the child's curl's, still leaned upon Meg's 
chair, still turned away his face. He didn't speak, but in his rough coarse 
fingers, clenching and expanding in the fair hair of the child, there was a 
eloquence that said enough. 

"Yes, yes," said Trotty, answering unconsciously what he saw 
expressed in his daughter's face. " Take her vtdth you, Meg. Get her 
to bed. There ! Now, Will, I'll show you where you lie. It's not 
much of a place : only a loft : but, having a loft, I always say, is one of 
the great conveniences of Hving in a mews ; and till this coach-house 
and stable gets a better let, we live here cheap. There's plenty of sweet 
hay up there, belonging to a neighbour ; and it's as clean as hands and 



THE CHIMES 87 

Meg can make it. Cheer up ! Don't give way. A new heart for a New 
Year, always ! " 

The hand, released from the child's hair, had fallen, trembhng, into 
Trotty's hand, So Trotty, talking without intermission, led him out 
as tenderly and easily as if he had been a child himself. 

Returning before Meg, he listened for an instant at the door of her 
little chamber ; an adjoining room. The child was murmuring a simple 
prayer before lying down to sleep ; and when she had remembered Meg's 
name, " Dearly, Dearly " — so her words ran — ^Trotty heard her stop and 
ask for his. 

It was some short time before the foolish little old fellow could com- 
pose himself to mend the fire, and draw his chair to the warm hearth. 
But, when he had done so, and had trimmed the light, he took his 
newspaper from his pocket, and began to read. Carelessly at first, and 
skimming up and down the columns ; but with an earnest and a sad 
attention, very soon. 

For this same dreaded paper re-directed Trotty's thoughts into the 
channel they had taken all that day, and which the day's events had so 
marked out and shaped. His interest in the two wanderers had set him 
on another course of thinking, and a happier one, for the time ; but being 
alone again, and reading of the crimes and violences of the people, he 
relapsed into his former train. 

In this mood, he came to an account (and it was not the first he had 
ever read) of a woman who had laid her desperate hands not only on her 
own life but on that of her young child. A crime so terrible, and so 
revolting to his soul, dilated with the love of Meg, that he let the journal 
drop, and fell back in his chair, appalled. 

" Unnatural and cruel ! " Toby cried. " Unnatural and cruel ! 
None but people who were bad at heart, born bad : who had no business 
on the earth ; could do such deeds. It's too true, all I've heard to-day ; 
too just, too full of. proof. We're Bad ! " 

The Chimes took up the words so suddenly — burst out so loud, and 
clear, and sonorous — that the Bells seemed to strike him in his chair. 

And what was that they said .? 

" Toby Veck, Toby Veck, waiting for you, Toby ! Toby Veck, Toby 
Veck, waiting for you, Toby ! Come and see us, come and see us, 
Drag him to us, drag him to us, Haunt and hunt him, haunt and hunt 
him. Break his slumbers, break his slumbers ! Toby Veck, Toby Veck, 
door open wide, Toby, Toby Veck, Toby Veck, door open wide, Toby — " 
then fiercely back to their impetuous strain again, and ringing in the very 
bricks and plaster on the walls. 

Toby listened. Fancy, fancy ! His remorse for having run away 
from them that afternoon ! No, no. Nothing of the kind. Again, 
again, and yet a dozen times again. " Haunt and hunt him, haunt and 
hunt him, Drag him to us, drag him to us ! " Deafening the whole 
town ! 



88 THE CHIMES 

" Meg," said Trotty softly : tapping at her door. " Do you hear 
anything ? " 

" I hear the Bells, father. Surely they're very loud to-night." 

" Is she asleep ? " said Toby, making an excuse for peeping in. 

" So peacefully and happily ! I can't leave her yet though, father. 
Look how she holds my hand ! " 

" Meg," whispered Trotty. " Listen to the Bells ! " 

She Hstened, with her face towards him all the time. But it under- 
went no change. She didn't understand them. 

Trotty withdrew, resumed his seat by the fire, and once more listened 
by himself. He remained here a little time. 

It was impossible to bear it ; their energy was dreadful. 

" If the tower-door is really open," said Toby, hastily laying aside his 
apron, but never thinking of his hat, " what's to hinder me from going 
up into the steeple and satisfying myself ? If it's shut, I don't want any 
other satisfaction. That's enough." 

He was pretty certain as he shpped out quietly into the street that he 
should find it shut and locked, for he knew the door well, and had so 
rarely seen it open, that he couldn't reckon above three times in all. It 
was a low arched portal, outside the church, in a dark nook behind a 
column ; and had such great iron hinges, and such a monstrous lock, 
that there was more hinge and lock than door. 

But what was his astonishment when, coming bareheaded to the 
church ; and putting his hand into this dark nook, with a certain 
misgiving that it might be unexpectedly seized, and a shivering pro- 
pensity to draw it back again ; he found that the door, which opened 
outwards, actually stood ajar ! 

He thought, on the first surprise, of going back ; or of getting a hght, 
or a companion ; but his courage aided him immediately, and he deter- 
mined to ascend alone. 

" What have I to fear .? " said Trotty. " It's a church ! Besides, the 
ringers may be there, and have forgotten to shut the door." 

So he went in ; feeling his way as he went, like a bUnd man ; for it 
was very dark. And very quiet, for the Chimes were silent. 

The dust from the street had blown into the recess ; and lying there, 
heaped up, made it so soft and velvet-Hke to the foot, that there was 
something startling even in that. The narrow stair was so close to the 
door, too, that he stumbled at the very first ; and shutting the door upon 
himself, by striking it with his foot, and causing it to rebound back 
heavily, he couldn't open it again. 

This was another reason, however, for going on. Trotty groped his 
way, and went on. Up, up, up, and round and round ; and up, up, up ; 
higher, higher, higher up ! 

1^ It was a disagreeable staircase for that groping work ; so low and 
narrow, that his groping hand was always touching something ; and it 
often felt so like a man or ghostly figure standing up erect and making 



THE CHIMES 89 

room for him to pass without discovery, that he would rub the smooth 
wall upward searching for its face, and downward searching for its feet, 
while a chill tingling crept all over him. Twice or thrice, a door or niche 
broke the monotonous surface ; and then it seemed a gap as wide as the 
whole church ; and he felt on the brink of an abyss, and going to tumble 
headlong down ; until he found the wall again. 

Still up, up, up ; and round and round ; and up, up, up ; higher, 
higher, higher up. 

At length, the dull and stifling atmosphere began to freshen : presently 
to feel quite windy : presently it blew so strong, that he could hardly 
keep his legs. But he got to an arched window in the tower, breast high, 
and holding tight, looked down upon the housetops,- on the smoking 
chimneys, on the blurr and blotch of hghts (towards the place where Meg 
was wondering where he was and calHng to him perhaps), all kneaded up 
together in a leaven of mist and darkness. 

This was the belfry, where the ringers came. He had caught hold 
of one of the frayed ropes which hung down through apertures in the 
oaken roof. At first he started, thinking it was hair ; then trembled at 
the very thought of waking the deep Bell. The Bells themselves were 
higher. Higher, Trotty, in his fascination, or in working out the spell 
upon him, groped his way. By ladders now, and toilsomely, for it was 
steep, and not too certain holding for the feet. 

Up, up, up ; and cHmb and clamber ; up, up, up ; higher, higher, 
higher up ! 

Until, ascending through the floor, and pausing with his head just 
raised above its beams, he came among the Bells. It was barely possible 
to make out their great shapes in the gloom ; but there they were. 
Shadowy, and dark, and dumb. 

A heavy sense of dread and loneliness fell instantly upon him, as he 
climbed into this airy nest of stone and metal. His head went round and 
round. He Hstened, and then raised a wild " Holloa." 

Holloa ! was mournfully protracted by the echoes. 

Giddy, confused, and out of breath, and frightened, Toby looked 
about him vacantly, and sank down in a swoon. 



THIRD QUARTER 

Black are the brooding clouds and troubled the deep waters, when the 
Sea of Thought, first heaving from a calm, gives up its Dead. Monsters 
uncouth and wild, arise in premature, imperfect resurrection ; the 
several parts and shapes of different things are joined and mixed by 
chance ; and when, and how, and by what wonderful degrees, each 
separates from each, and every sense and object of the mind resumes its 
usual form and fives again, no man — though every man is every day the 
casket of this type of the Great Mystery — can tell. 

So, when and how the darkness of the night-black steeple changed to 



90 THE CHIMES 

shining light ; when and how the sohtary tower was peopled with a 
myriad figures ; when and how the whispered " Haunt and hunt him," 
breathing monotonously through his sleep or swoon, became a voice 
exclaiming in the waking ears of Trotty, " Break his slumbers ; " when 
and how he ceased to have a sluggish and confused idea that such things 
were, companioning a host of others that were not ; there are no dates 
or means to tell. But ; awake and standing on his feet upon the boards 
where he had lately lain : he saw this Goblin Sight. 

He saw the tower, whither his charmed footsteps had brought him, 
swarming with dwarf phantoms, spirits, elfin creatures of the Bells. 
He saw them leaping, flying, dropping, pouring from the Bells without a 
pause. He saw them, round him on the ground ; above him, in the 
air ; clambering from him, by the ropes below ; looking down upon 
him, from the massive iron-girded beams ; peeping in upon him, 
through the chinks and loopholes in the walls ; spreading away and away 
from him in enlarging circles, as the water-ripples give place to a 
huge stone that suddenly comes splashing in among them. He saw 
them, of all aspects and all shapes. He saw them ugly, handsome, 
crippled, exquisitely formed. He saw them young, he saw them old, 
he saw them kind, he saw them cruel, he saw them merry, he saw 
them grim ; he saw them dance, and heard them sing ; he saw them 
tear their hair, and heard them howl. He saw the air thick with them. 
He saw them come and go, incessantly. He saw them riding downward, 
soaring upward, sailing off afar, perching near at hand, all restless and all 
violently active. Stone, and brick, and slate, and tile, became trans- 
parent to him as to them. He saw them in the houses, busy at the 
■sleepers' beds. He saw them soothing people in their dreams ; he saw 
them beating them with knotted whips ; he saw them yelling in their 
ears ; he saw them playing softest music on their pillows ; he saw them 
cheering some with the songs of birds and the perfume of flowers ; he 
saw them flashing awful faces on the troubled rest of others, from 
enchanted mirrors which they carried in their hands. 

He saw these creatures, not only among sleeping men but waking 
also, active in pursuits irreconcilable with one another, and possessing 
or assuming natures the most opposite. He saw one buckling on innu- 
merable wings to increase his speed ; another loading himself with chains 
and weights to retard his. He saw some putting the hands of clocks 
forward, some putting the hands of clocks backward, some endeavouring 
to stop the clock entirely. He saw them representing, here a marriage 
ceremony, there a funeral ; in this chamber an election, in that a ball ; 
everywhere, restless and untiring motion. 

Bewildered by the host of shifting and extraordinary figures, as well 
as by the uproar of the Bells, which all this while were ringing, Trotty 
clung to a wooden pillar for support, and turned his white face here and 
there, in mute and stunned astonishment. 

As he gazed, the Chimes stopped. Instantaneous change ! The whole 



THECHIMES 91 

s\V3Lim fainted ! their forms collapsed, their speed deserted them ; they 
sought to fly, but in the act of falling died and melted into air. No fresh 
supply succeeded them. One straggler leaped down pretty briskly from 
the surface of the Great Bell, and alighted on his feet, but he was dead 
and gone before he could turn round. Some few of the late company 
who had gambolled in the tower, remained there, spinning over and over 
a little longer ; but these became at every turn more faint, and few, and 
feeble, and soon went the way of the rest. The last of all was one small 
hunchback, who had got into an echoing corner, where he twirled and 
twirled, and floated by him.self a long time ; showing such perseverance, 
that at last he dwindled to a leg and even to a foot, before he finally 
retired ; but he vanished in the end, and then the tower was silent. 

Then and not before, did Trotty see in every Bell a bearded figure 
of the bulk and stature of the Bell — incomprehensibly, a figure and the 
Bell itself. Gigantic, grave, and darkly watchful of him, as he stood 
rooted to the ground. 

Mysterious and awful figures ! Resting on nothing ; poised in the 
night air of the tower, with their draped and hooded heads merged in 
the dim roof ; motionless and shadowy. Shadoviy and dark, although he 
saw them by some Hght belonging to themselves — none else was there — 
each with its mufiled hand upon its goblin mouth. 

He could not plunge down wildly through the opening in the floor, for 
all power of motion had deserted him. Otherwise he would have done 
so — -ay, would have thrown himself, headforemost, from the steeple-top, 
rather than have seen them watching him with eyes that would have 
waked and watched although the pupils had been taken out. 

Again, again, the dread and terror of the lonely place, and of the wild 
and fearful night that reigned there, touched him like a spectral hand. 
His distance from all help ; the long, dark, winding, ghost-beleaguered 
way that lay between him and the earth on which men lived ; his 
being high, high, high, up there, wherfe it had made him dizzy to see the 
birds fly in the day ; cut off from all good people, who at such an hour 
were safe at home and sleeping in their beds ; all this struck coldly 
through him, not as a reflection but a bodily sensation. Meantime 
his eyes and thoughts and fears, were fixed upon the watchful figures ; 
which, rendered unlike any figures of this world by the deep gloom and 
shade enwrapping and enfolding them, as well as by their looks and forms 
and supernatural hovering above the floor, were nevertheless as plainly 
to be seen as were the stalwart oaken frames, cross-pieces, bars and beams, 
set up there to support the Bells. These hemmed them, in a very forest 
of hewn timber ; from the entanglements, intricacies, and depths of 
which, as from among the boughs of a dead wood blighted for their 
phantom use, they kept their darksome and unwinking watch. 

A blast of air — how cold and shrill ! — came moaning through the 
tower. As it died away, the Great Bell, or the Goblin of the Great Bell, 
spoke. 



92 THECHIMES 

" What visitor is this ? " it said. The voice was low and deep, and 
Trotty fancied that it sounded in the other figures as well. 

" I thought my name was called by the Chimes ! " said Trotty, raising 
his hands in an attitude of suppHcation. " I hardly know why I am 
here, or how I came. I have listened to the Chimes these many years. 
They have cheered me often." 

" And you have thanked them ? " said the Bell. 

" A thousand times ! " cried Trotty. 

" How ? " 

" I am a poor man," faltered Trotty, " and could only thank them in 
words." 

" And always so .? " inquired the Goblin of the Bell. " Have you 
never done us wrong in words ? " 

" No ! " cried Trotty eagerly. 

" Never done us foul, and false, and wicked wrong, in words ? " 
pursued the Gobhn of the Bell. 

Trotty was about to answer, " Never ! " But he stopped, and was 
confused. 

" The voice of Time," said the Phantom, " cries to man, Advance ! 
Time is for his advancement and improvement ; for his greater worth, 
his greater happiness, his better Hfe ; his progress onward to that goal 
within its knowledge and its view, and set there, in the period when 
Time and He began. Ages of darkness, wickedness, and violence, have 
come and gone : millions uncountable, have suffered, lived, and died : 
to point the way before him. Who seeks to turn him back or stay him 
on his course, arrests a mighty engine which will strike the meddler dead ; 
and be the fiercer and the wilder, ever, for its momentary check ! " 

" I never did so, to my knowledge, sir," said Trotty. " It was quite 
by accident if I did. I wouldn't go to do it, I'm sure." 

"Who puts into the mouth of Time, or of its servants," said the 
GobHn of the Bell, " a cry of lamentation for days which have had their 
trial and their failure, and have left deep traces of it which the blind 
may see — a cry that only serves the Present Time, by showing men 
how much it needs their help when any ears can hsten to regrets for such 
a Past — ^who does this, does a wrong. And you have done that wrong 
to us, the Chimes." 

Trotty's first excess of fear was gone. But he had felt tenderly and 
gratefully towards the Bells, as you have seen ; and when he heard 
himself arraigned as one who had offended them so weightily, his heart 
was touched with penitence and grief. 

" If you knew," said Trotty, clasping his hands earnestly — " or 
perhaps you do know — if you know how often you have kept me company ; 
how often you have cheered me up when I've been low ; how you were 
quite the plaything of my Httle daughter Meg (almost the only one she 
ever had) when first her mother died, and she and me were left alone — 
you won't bear maHce for a hasty word ! " 



THE CHIMES 93 

" Who hears in us, the Chimes, one note bespeaking disregard, or 
stern regard, of any hope, or joy, or pain, or sorrow, of the many-sorrowed 
throng ; who hears us make response to any creed that gauges human 
passions and affections, as it gauges the amount of miserable food on 
which humanity may pine and wither ; does us wrong. That wrong 
you have done us 1 " said the Bell. 

" I have ! " said Trotty. " O forgive me ! " 

" Who hears us echo the dull vermin of the earth : the Putters Down 
of crushed and broken natures, formed to be raised up higher than 
such maggots of the time can crawl or can conceive," pursued the Gobhn 
of the Bell : " who does so, does us wrong. And you have done us 
wrong ! " 

" Not meaning it," said Trotty. " In my ignorance. Not meaning 
it!" 

" Lastly and most of all," pursued the Bell, " Who turns his back 
upon the fallen and disfigured of his kind ; abandons them as Vile ; and 
does not trace and track with pitying eyes the unfenced precipice by 
which they fell from Good — grasping in their fall some tufts and shreds 
of that lost soil, and clinging to them still when bruised and dying in the 
gulf below ; does wrong to Heaven and Man, to Time and to Eternity. 
And you have done that wrong ! " 

" Spare me," cried Trotty, falling on his knees ; " for Mercy's 
sake ! " 

" Listen ! " said the Shadow. 

" Listen ! " cried the other Shadows. 

" Listen ! " said a clear and childlike voice, which Trotty thought he 
recognised as having heard before. 

The organ sounded faintly in the church below. Swelling by degrees, 
the melody ascended to the roof, and filled the choir and nave. Expand- 
ing more and more, it rose up, up ; up, up ; higher, higher, higher up ; 
awakening agitated hearts within the bulky piles of oak, the hollow bells, 
the iron-bound doors, the stairs of solid stone ; until the tower walls 
were insufficient to contain it, and it soared into the sky. 

No wonder that an old man's breast could not contain a sound so vast 
and mighty. It broke from that weak prison in a rush of tears ; and 
Trotty put his hands before his face. 

" Listen ! " said the Shadow. 

" Listen ! " said the other Shadows. 

" Listen ! " said the child's voice. 

A solemn strain of blended voices rose into the tower. 

It was a very low and mournful strain : a Dirge : and as he listened, 
Trotty heard his child among the singers. 

" She is dead ! " exclaimed the old man. " Meg is dead ! Her Spirit 
calls to me. I hear it ! " 

" The Spirit of your child bewails the dead, and mingles with the dead 
— dead hopes, dead fancies, dead imaginings of youth," returned the 



94 THE CHIMES 

Bell, " but she is living. Learn from her life, a living truth. Learn 
from the creature dearest to your heart, how bad the Bad are born. See 
every bud and leaf plucked one by one from off the fairest stem, and 
know^ how bare and wretched it may be. Follow her ! To despera- 
tion ! » 

Each of the shadowy figures stretched its right arm forth, and pointed 
downward. 

" The Spirit of the Chimes is your companion," said the figure. " Go ! 
It stands behind you ! " 

Trotty turned, and saw — the child ! The child Will Fern had carried 
in the street ; the child whom Meg had watched, but now, asleep ! 

" I carried her myself, to-night," said Trotty. " In these arms ! " 

" Show him what he calls himself," said the dark figures, one and all. 

The tower opened at his feet. He looked down, and beheld his 
own form, lying at the bottom, on the outside : crushed and motionless. 

" No more a living man ! " cried Trotty. " Dead ! " 

" Dead ! " said the figures all together. 

" Gracious Heaven ! And the New Year " 

" Past," said the figures. 

" What ! " he cried, shuddering. " I missed my way, and coming on 
the outside of this tower in the dark, fell down — a year ago ? " 

" Nine years ago 1 " replied the figures. 

As they gave the answer, they recalled their outstretched hands ; and 
where their figures had been, there the Bells were. 

And they rang ; their time being come again. And once again, vast 
multitudes of phantoms sprang into existence ; once again, were inco- 
herently engaged, as they had been before ; once again, faded on the 
stopping of the chimes ; and dwindled into nothing. 

" What are these ? " he asked his guide. " If I am not mad, what are 
these ? " 

" Spirits of the Bells. Their sound upon the air," returned the child. 
" They take such shapes and occupations as the hopes and thoughts of 
mortals, and the recollections they have stored up, give them." 

" And you," said Trotty wildly. " What are you ? " 

" Hush, hush ! " returned the child. " Look here ! " 

In a poor, mean room : working at the same kind of embroidery which 
he had often, often seen before her ; Meg, his own dear daughter, was 
presented to his view. He made no effort to imprint his kisses on her 
face ; he did not strive to clasp her to his loving heart ; he knew that 
such endearments were for him no more. But he held his trembling 
breath ; and brushed away the blinding tears, that he might look upon 
her ; that he might only see her. 

Ah ! Changed. Changed. The light of the clear eye, how dimmed. 
The bloom, how faded from the cheek. Beautiful she was, as she had ever 
been, but Hope, Hope, Hope, oh where was the fresh Hope that had 
spoken to him like a voice ! 



THE CHIMES 95 

She looked up from her work, at a companion. Following her eyes, the 
old man started back. 

In the woman grown, he recognised her at a glance. In the long 
silken hair, he saw the self-same curls ; around the hps, the child's, 
expression hngering still. See ! In the eyes, now turned inquiringly on 
Meg, there shone the very look that scanned those features when he 
brought her home ! 

Then what was this, beside him ! 

Looking with awe into its face, he saw a something reigning there : a 
lofty something, undefined and indistinct, which made it hardly more 
than a remembrance of that child — as yonder figure might be — yet it was 
the same : the same : and wore the dress. 
Hark. They were speaking ! 

" Meg," said LiHan, hesitating. " How often you raise your head 
from your work to look at me ! " 

" Are my looks so altered, that they frighten you ? " asked Meg. 
" Nay, dear ! But you smile at that, yourself ! Why not smile, when 
you look at me, Meg ? " 

" I do so. Do I not ? " she answered : smihng on her. 
" Now you do," said LiHan, " but not usually. When you think I'm 
busy, and don't see you, you look so anxious and so doubtful, that I hardly 
like to raise my eyes. There is little cause for smiling in this hard and 
toilsome life, but you were once so cheerful." 

" Am I not now ! " cried Meg, speaking in a tone of strange alarm, and 
rising to embrace her. " Do / make our weary life more weary to you, 
LiHan ! " 

" You have been the only thing that made it life," said LiHan, fer- 
vently kissing her ; " sometimes the only thing that made me care to 
Hve so, Meg. Such work, such work ! So many hours, so many days, so 
many long, long nights of hopeless, cheerless, never-ending work — not to 
heap up riches, not to live grandly or gaily, not to Hve upon enough, 
however coarse ; but to earn bare bread ; to scrape together just enough 
to toil upon, and want upon, and keep alive in us the consciousness of our 
hard fate ! Oh, Meg, Meg ! " she raised her voice, and twined her arms 
about her as she spoke, Hke one in pain. " How can the cruel world go 
round, and bear to look upon such lives ! " 

" LiHy ! " said Meg, soothing her, and putting back her hair from her 
wet face. " Why, Lilly ! You ! So pretty and so young ! " 

"Oh, Meg ! " she interrupted, holding her at arm's-length, and looking 
in her face imploringly. " The worst of all, the worst of all ! Strike 
me old, Meg ! Wither me and shrivel me, and free me from the dreadful 
thoughts that tempt me in my youth ! " 

Trotty turned to look upon his guide. But the Spirit of the child had 
taken flight. Was gone. 

Neither did he himself remain in the same place ; for Sir Joseph Bowley^ 
Friend and Father of the Poor, held a great festivity at Bowley Hall, in 



96 THE CHIMES 

honour of the natal day of Lady Bowley ; and as Lady Bowley had been 
born on New Year's Day (which the local newspapers considered an 
especial pointing of the finger of Providence to number One, as Lady 
Bowley's destined figure in Creation), it was on a New Year's Day that 
this festivity took place. 

Bowley Hall was full of visitors. The red-faced gentleman was there, 
Mr. Filer was there, the great Alderman Cute was there — Alderman Cute 
had a sympathetic feeling with great people, and had considerably 
improved his acquaintance with Sir Joseph Bowley on the strength of his 
attentive letter : indeed had become quite a friend of the family since 
then — and many guests were there. Trotty's ghost was there, wandering 
about, poor phantom, drearily ; and looking for its guide. 

There was to be a great dinner in the Great Hall. At which Sir 
Joseph Bowley, in his celebrated character of Friend and Father of the 
Poor, was to make his great speech. Certain plum-puddings were to be 
eaten by his Friends and Children in another Hall first ; and, at a given 
signal, Friends and Children flocking in among their Friends and Fathers, 
were to form a family assemblage, with not one manly eye therein 
unmoistened by emotion. 

But there was more than this to happen. Even more than this. Sir 
Joseph Bowley, Baronet and Member of Parliament, was to play a match 
at skittles — real skittles — ^with his tenants. 

" Which quite reminds one," said Alderman Cute, " of the days of old 
King Hal, stout King Hal, bluif King Hal. Ah. Fine character ! " 

" Very," said Mr. Filer, dryly. " For marrying women and niurdering 
'em. Considerably more than the average number of wives by-the- 
bye." 

" You'll marry the beautiful ladies, and not murder 'em, eh ? " said 
Alderman Cute to the heir of Bowley, aged twelve. " Sweet boy ! We 
shall have this little gentleman in Parliament now," said the Alderman, 
holding him by the shoulders, and looking as reflective as he could, " before 
we know where we are. We shall hear of his successes at the poll ; his 
speeches in the House ; his overtures from Governments ; his briUiant 
achievements of all kinds ; ah ! we shall make our little orations about 
him in the Common Council, I'll be bound ; before we have time to 
look about us ! " 

" Oh, the difference of shoes and stockings ! " Trotty thought. But 
his heart yearned towards the child, for the love of those same shoeless 
and stockingless boys, predestined (by the Alderman) to turn out bad, 
who might have been the children of poor Meg. 

" Richard," moaned Trotty, roaming among the company, to and fro ; 
" where is he ? I can't find Richard ! Where is Richard ? " 

Not hkely to be there, if still ahve ! But Trotty's grief and soHtude 
confused him ; and he still went wandering among the gallant company 
looking for his guide, and saying, " Where is Richard ? Show me 
Richard ! " 



THE CHIMES 97 

He was wandering thus, when he encountered Mr. Fish, the confi- 
dential Secretary : in great agitation. 

" Bless my heart and soul ! " cried Mr. Fish. " Where's Alderman 
Cute ? Has anybody seen the Alderman ? " 

" Seen the Alderman ? Oh dear ! Who could ever help seeing the 
Alderman ? He was so considerate, so affable ; he bore so much in 
mind the natural desire of folks to see him ; that if he had a fault, it 
was the being constantly On View. And wherever the great people 
were, there, to be sure, attracted by the kindred sympathy between great 
souls, was Cute. 

Several voices cried that he was in the circle round Sir Joseph. Mr. 
Fish made way there ; found him ; and took him secretly into a window 
near at hand. Trotty joined them. Not of his own accord. He felt 
that his steps were led in that direction. 

" My dear Alderman Cute," said Mr. Fish. " A Httle more this way. 
The most dreadful circumstance has occurred. I have this moment 
received the intelligence. I think it will be best not to acquaint Sir 
Joseph with it till the day is over. You understand Sir Joseph, and will 
give me your opinion. The most frightful and deplorable event ! " 

" Fish ! " returned the Alderman. " Fish ! My good fellow, what 
is the matter ? Nothing revolutionary, I hope ! No — no attempted 
interference with the magistrates ? " 

" Deedles, the banker," gasped the Secretary. " Deedles Brothers — 
who was to have been here to-day — high in office in the Goldsmiths 

Company " 

" Not stopped ! " exclaimed the Alderman. " It can't be ! " 
" Shot himself." 
" Good God ! " 

" Put a double-barrelled pistol to his mouth, in his own counting- 
house," said Mr. Fish, " and blew his brains out. No motive. Princely 
circumstances ! '^ 

" Circumstances ! " exclaimed the Alderman. " A man of noble 
fortune. One of the most respectable of men. Suicide, Mr. Fish ! 
By his own hand ! " 

" This very morning," returned Mr. Fish. 

" Oh the brain, the brain ! " exclaimed the pious Alderman, lifting up 
his hands. " Oh the nerves, the nerves ; the mysteries of this machine 
called Man ! Oh the little that unhinges it : poor creatures that we 
are ! Perhaps a dinner, Mr. Fish. Perhaps the conduct of his son, who, 
I have heard, ran very wild, and was in the habit of drawing bills upon 
him without the least authority ! A most respectable man. One of the 
most respectable men I ever knew ! A lamentable instance, Mr. Fish. 
A public calamity ! I shall make a point of wearing the deepest mourn- 
ing. A most respectable man ! But there is one above. We must 
submit, Mr. Fish. We must submit ! " 
What, Alderman ! No word of Putting Down ? Remember, Justice, 

CC. D 



98 THE CHIMES 

your high moral boast and pride. Come, Alderman ! Balance those 
scales. Throw me into this, the empty one. No Dinner, and Nature's 
founts in some poor woman, dried by starving misery and rendered 
obdurate to claims for which her offspring has authority in holy mother 
Eve. Weigh me the two, you Daniel going to judgment, when your 
day shall come ! Weigh them, in the eyes of suffering thousands, 
audience (not unmindful) of the grim farce you play ! Or supposing 
that you strayed from your five wits — it's not so far to go, but that it 
might be — and laid hands upon that throat of yours, warning your fellows 
(if you have a fellow) how they croak their comfortable wickedness to 
raving heads and stricken hearts. What then ? 

The words rose up in Trotty's breast, as if they had been spoken by 
some other voice within him. Alderman Cute pledged himself to Mr. 
Fish that he would assist him in breaking the melancholy catastrophe to 
Sir Joseph, when the day was over. Then, before they parted, wringing 
Mr. Fish's hand in bitterness of soul, he said, " The most respectable of 
men ! " And added that he hardly knew : not even he : why such 
afflictions were allowed on earth. 

" It's almost enough to make one think, if one didn't know better," 
said Alderman Cute, " that at times some motion of a capsizing nature 
was going on in things, which affected the general economy of the social 
fabric. Deedles Brothers ! " 

The skittle-playing came off with immense success. Sir Joseph 
knocked the pins about quite skilfully ; Master Bowley took an innings 
at a shorter distance also ; and everybody said that now, when a Baronet 
and the Son of a Baronet played at skittles, the country was coming 
round again, as fast as it could come. 

At its proper time, the Banquet was served up. Trotty involuntarily 
repaired to the Hall with the rest, for he felt himself conducted thither 
by some stronger impulse than his own free will. The sight was gay 
in the extreme ; the ladies were very handsome ; the visitors dehghted, 
cheerful, and good-tempered. When the lower doors were opened, 
and the people flocked in, in their rustic dresses, the beauty of the spec- 
tacle was at its height ; but Trotty only murmured more and more, 
" Where is Richard ! He should help and comfort her ! I can't see 
Richard ! " 

There had been some speeches made ; and Lady Bowley's health had 
been proposed ; and Sir Joseph Bowley had returned thanks ; and had 
made his great speech, showing by various pieces of evidence that he was 
the born Friend and Father, and so forth ; and had given as a Toast, his 
Friends and Children, and the Dignity of Labour; when a slight 
disturbance at the bottom of the Hall attracted Toby's notice. After 
some confusion, noise, and opposition, one man broke through the rest, 
and stood forward by himself. 

Not Richard. No. But one whom he had thought of, and had looked 
for, many times. In a scantier supply of light, he might have doubted 



THE CHIMES 99 

the identity of that worn man, so old, and grey, and bent ; but with a 
blaze of lamps upon his gnarled and knotted head, he knew Will Fern as 
soon as he stepped forth. 

" What is this ! " exclaimed Sir Joseph, rising. " Who gave this man 
admittance ? This is a criminal from prison ! Mr. Fish, sir, will you 
have the goodness " 

" A minute ! " said Will Fern. " A minute ! My Lady, you was 
born on this day along with a New Year. Get me a minute's leave to 
speak." 

She made some intercession for him. Sir Joseph took his seat again 
with native dignity. 

The ragged visitor — for he was miserably dressed — looked round upon 
the company, and made his homage to them with a humble bow. 

" Gentlefolks ! " he said. " You've drunk the Labourer. Look 
at me ! " 

" Just come from jail," said Mr. Fish. 

" Just come from jail," said Will. " And neither for the first time, nor 
the second, nor the third, nor yet the fourth." 

Mr. Filer was heard to remark testily, that four times was over the 
average ; and he ought to be ashamed of himself. 

" Gentlefolks ! " repeated Will Fern. " Look at me ! You see I'm 
at the worst. Beyond all hurt or harm ; beyond your help ; for the 
time when your kind words or kind actions could have done me good," 
— he struck his hand upon his breast, and shook his head, " is gone, with 
the scent of last year's beans or clover on the air. Let me say a word 
for these," pointing to the labouring people in the Hall ; " and when 
you're met together, hear the real Truth spoke out for once." 

" There's not a man here," said the host, " who would have him for a 
spokesman." 

" Like enough, Sir Joseph. I believe it. Not the less true, perhaps, 
is what I say. Perhaps that's a proof on it. Gentlefolks, I've lived many 
a year in this place. You may see the cottage from the sunk fence over 
yonder. I've seen the ladies draw it in their books, a hundred times. 
It looks well in a picter, I've heerd say ; but there ain't weather in picters, 
and maybe 'tis fitter for that, than for a place to live in. Well ! I 
lived there. How hard — how bitter hard, I lived there, I won't say. 
Any day in the year, and every day, you can judge for your ovm 
selves." 

He spoke as he had spoken on the night when Trotty found him in 
the street. His voice was deeper and more husky, and had a trembling 
in it now and then ; but he never raised it passionately, and seldom 
lifted it above the firm stern level of the homely facts he stated. 

" 'Tis harder than you think for, gentlefolks, to grow up decent : 
commonly decent : in such a place. That I growed up a man and not a 
brute, says something for me — as I was then. As I am now, there's 
nothing can be said for me or done for me. I'm past it." 



100 THE CHIMES 

" I am glad this man has entered," observed Sir Joseph, looking round 
serenely. " Don't disturb him. It appears to be Ordained. He is an 
Example : a living example. I hope and trust, and confidently expect, 
that it will not be lost upon my Friends here." 

" I dragged on," said Fern, after a moment's silence. " Somehow. 
Neither me nor any other man knows how ; but so heavy, that I couldn't 
put a cheerful face upon it, or make believe that I was anything but 
what I was. Now, gentlemen — you gentlemen that sits at Sessions — 
when you see a man with discontent writ on his face, you says to one 
another, ' He's suspicious. I has my doubts,' says you, ' about Will 
Fern. Watch that fellow ! ' I don't say, gentlemen, it ain't quite nat'ral, 
but I say 'tis so ; and from that hour, whatever Will Fern does, or lets 
alone — all one — it goes against him." 

Alderman Cute stuck his thumbs in his waistcoat-pockets, and leaning 
back in his chair, and smiling, winked at a neighbouring chandeher. As 
much as to say, " Of course ! I told you so. The common cry ! Lord 
bless you, we are up to all this sort of thing — myself and human 
nature." 

" Now, gentlemen," said Will Fern, holding out his hands, and 
flushing for an instant in his haggard face, " see how your laws are made to 
trap and hunt us when we're brought to this. I tries to hve elsewhere. 
And I'm a vagabond. To jail with him ! I comes back here. I 
goes a-nutting in your woods, and breaks — ^who don't ? — a limber 
branch or two. To jail with him ! One of your keepers sees me in the 
broad day, near my own patch of garden, with a gun. To jail with him ! 
I has a nat'ral angry word with that man, when I'm free again. To jail 
with him ! I cuts a stick. To jail with him ! I eats a rotten apple or a 
turnip. To jail with him ! It's twenty mile away ; and coming back, 
I begs a trifle on the road. To jail with him ! At last, the constable, 
the keeper — anybody — finds me anywhere, a-doing anything. To jail 
with him, for he's a vagrant, and a jail-bird known ; and the jail's the 
only home he's got." 

The Alderman nodded sagaciously, as who should say, " A very good 
home too ! " 

" Do I say this to serve my cause ! " cried Fern. " Who can give me 
back my liberty, who can give me back my good name, who can give me 
back my innocent niece ? Not all the Lords and Ladies in wide England. 
But gentlemen, gentlemen, deahng with other men hke me, begin at the 
right end. Give us, in mercy, better homes when we're a-lying in our 
cradles ; give us better food when we're a-working for our Hves ; give 
us kinder laws to bring us back when we're a-going wrong ; and don't set 
Jail, Jail, Jail, afore us, everywhere we turn. There ain't a condescension 
you can show the Labourer then, that he won't take, as ready and as 
grateful as a man can be ; for he has a patient, peaceful, wilhng heart. 
But you must put his rightful spirit in him first ; for, whether he's a 
wreck and ruin such as me, or is hke one of them that stand here now. 



THE CHIMES loi 

his spirit is divided from you at this time. Bring it back, gentlefolks, 
bring it back ! Bring it back, afore the day comes when even his Bible 
changes in his altered mind, and the words seem to him to read, as they 
have sometimes read in my own eyes — in Jail : ' Whither thou goest, 
I can Not go ; where thou lodgest, I do Not lodge ; thy people are Not 
my people ; Nor thy God my God ! ' " 

A sudden stir and agitation took place in the Hall. Trotty thought 
at first, that several had risen to eject the man ; and hence this change 
in its appearance. But another moment showed him that the room 
and all the company had vanished from his sight, and that his daughter 
was again before him, seated at her work. But in a poorer, meaner 
garret than before ; and with no LiKan by her side. 

The frame at which she had worked, was put away upon a shelf 
and covered up. The chair in which she had sat, was turned against 
the wall. A history was written in these httle things, and in Meg's 
grief -worn face. Oh ! who could fail to read it ? 

Meg strained her eyes upon her work until it was too dark to see the 
threads ; and when the night closed in, she Hghted her feeble candle and 
worked on. Still her old father was invisible about her ; looking down 
upon her ; loving her — how dearly loving her ! — and talking to her in 
a tender voice about the old times, and the Bells. Though he knew, poor 
Trotty, though he knew she could not hear him. 

A great part of the evening had worn away, when a knock came at her 
door. She opened it. A man was on the threshold. A slouching, 
moody, drunken, sloven : wasted by intemperance and vice : and with 
his matted hair and unshorn beard in wild disorder : but with some 
traces on him, too, of having been a man of good proportion and good 
features in his youth. 

He stopped until he had her leave to enter ; and she, retiring a pace 
or two from the open door, silently and sorrowfully looked upon him. 
Trotty had his wish. He saw Richard. 

" May I come in, Margaret ? " 

" Yes ! Come in. Come in ! " 

It was well that Trotty knew him before he spoke ; for with any 
doubt remaining on his mind, the harsh discordant voice would have 
persuaded him that it was not Richard but some other man. 

There were but two chairs in the room. She gave him hers, and stood 
at some short distance from him, waiting to hear what he had to say. 

He sat, however, staring vacantly at the floor ; with a lustreless and 
stupid smile. A spectacle of such deep degradation, of such abject 
hopelessness, of such a miserable downfall, that she put her hands before 
her face, and turned away, lest he should see how much it moved her. 

Roused by the rusthng of her dress, or some such trifling sound, he 
lifted his head, and began to speak as if there had been no pause since he 
entered. 

" Still at work, Margaret ? You work late." 



102 THE CHIMES 

" I generally do." 

" And early ? " 

" And early." 

" So she said. She said you never tired ; or never owned that you 
tired. Not all the time you lived together. Nor even when you fainted, 
between work and fasting. But I told you that, the last time I came." 

" You did," she answered. " And I implored you to tell me nothing 
more ; and you made me a solemn promise, Richard, that you never 
would." 

" A solemn promise," he repeated, with a drivelling laugh and vacant 
stare. " A solemn promise. To be sure. A solemn promise ! " 
Awakening, as it were, after a time, in the same manner as before ; he 
said with sudden animation, 

" How can I help it, Margaret ? What am I to do ? She has been to 
me again ! " 

" Again ! " cried Meg, clasping her hands. " O, does she think of me 
so often ? Has she been again ? " 

" Twenty times again," said Richard. " Margaret, she haunts me. 
She comes behind me in the street, and thrusts it in my hand. I hear 
her foot upon the ashes when I'm at my work (ah, ha ! that ain't often), 
and before I can turn my head, her voice is in my ear, saying, ' Richard, 
don't look round. For Heaven's love, give her this ! ' She brings it 
where I Hve ; she sends it in letters ; she taps at the window and lays 
it on the sill. What can I do ? Look at it ! " 

He held out in his hand a little purse, and chinked the money it 
enclosed. 

" Hide it," said Meg. " Hide it ! When she comes again, tell her, 
Richard, that I love her in my soul. That I never lie down to sleep, but 
I bless her, and pray for her. That, in my soHtary work, I never cease 
to have her in my thoughts. That she is with me, night and day. 
That if I died to-morrow, I would remember her with my last breath. 
But that I cannot look upon it ! " 

He slowly recalled his hand, and crushing the purse together, said with 
a kind of drowsy thoughtfulness : 

" I told her so. I told her so, as plain as words could speak. I've 
taken this gift back and left it at her door, a dozen times since then. But 
when she came at last, and stood before me, face to face, what could I 
do ? " 

" You saw her ! " exclaimed Meg. " You saw her ! Oh, LiHan, my 
sweet girl ! Oh, LiHan, LiHan ! " 

?^ " I saw her," he went on to say, not answering, but engaged in the 
same slow pursuit of his own thoughts. " There she stood : trembling ! 
* How does she look, Richard ? Does she ever speak of me ? Is she 
thinner ? My old place at the table : what's in my old place ? And 
the frame she taught me our old v/ork on — has she burnt it, Richard ? ' 
There she was. I heard her say it." 



THE CHIMES 103 

Meg checked her sobs, and with the tears streaming from her eyes, 
bent over him to Hsten. Not to lose a breath. 

With his arms resting on his knees ; and stooping forward in his chair, 
as if what he said were written on the ground in some half legible 
character, which it was his occupation to decipher and connect ; he 
went on. 

" ' Richard, I have fallen very low ; and you may guess how much 
I have suffered in having this sent back, when I can bear to bring it 
in my hand to you. But you loved her once, even in my memory, 
dearly. Others stepped in between you ; fears, and jealousies, and 
doubts, and vanities, estranged you from her ; but you did love her, 
even in my memory ! ' I suppose I did," he said, interrupting himself 
for a moment. " I did ! That's neither here nor there. ' O Richard, if 
you ever did ; if you have any memory for what is gone and lost, take it 
to her once more. Once more ! Tell her how I begged and prayed. 
Tell her how I laid my head upon your shoulder, where her own head 
might have lain, and was so humble to you, Richard. Tell her that you 
looked into my face, and saw the beauty which she used to praise, all 
gone : all gone : and in its place, a poor, wan, hollow cheek, that she 
would weep to see. Tell her everything, and take it back, and she will 
not refuse again. She will not have the heart ! ' " 

So he sat musing, and repeating the last words, until he woke again, and 
rose. 

" You won't take it, Margaret." 

She shook her head, and motioned an entreaty to him to leave her. 

" Good night, Margaret." 

" Good night ! " 

He turned to look upon her ; struck by her sorrow, and perhaps by 
the pity for himself which trembled in her voice. It was a quick and 
rapid action ; and for the moment some flash of his old bearing kindled in 
his form. In the next he went as he had come. Nor did this glimmer 
of a quenched fire seem to light him to a quicker sense of his debase- 
ment. 

In any mood, in any grief, in any torture of the mind or body, Meg's 
work must be done. She sat down to her task, and pHed it. Night, 
midnight. Still she worked. 

She had a meagre fire, the night being very cold ; and rose at intervals 
to mind it. The Chimes rang half-past twelve while she was thus 
engaged ; and when they ceased she heard a gentle knocking at the door. 
Before she could so much as wonder who was there, at that unusual 
hour, it opened. 

Oh Youth and Beauty, happy as ye should be, look at this ! Oh 
Youth and Beauty, blest and blessing all within your reach, and working 
out the ends of your Beneficent Creator, look at this ! 

She saw the entering figure ; screamed its name ; cried " LiHan ! " 

It was swift, and fell upon its knees before her : clinging to her dress. 



104 T H E C H I M E S 

" Up, dear ! Up ! Lilian ! My own dearest ! " 

" Never more, Meg ; never more ! Here ! Here ! Close to you, 
holding to you, feeling your dear breath upon my face ! " 

" Sweet Lilian ! Darling Lilian ! Child of my heart — no mother's 
love can be more tender — lay your head upon my breast ! " 

" Never more, Meg. Never more ! When I first looked into your 
face, you knelt before me. On my knees before you, let me die. Let it 
be here ! » 

" You have come back. My Treasure ! We will Hve together, work 
together, hope together, die together ! " 

" Ah ! Kiss my lips, Meg ; fold your arms about me ; press me to 
your bosom ; look kindly on me ; but don't raise me. Let it be here. 
Let me see the last of your dear face upon my knees ! " 

Oh Youth and Beauty, happy as ye should be, look at this ! Oh 
Youth and Beauty, working out the ends of your Beneficent Creator, 
look at this ! 

" Forgive me, Meg ! So dear, so dear ! Forgive me ! I know you 
do, I see you do, but say so, Meg ! " 

She said so, with her Hps on Lilian's cheek. And with her arms 
twined round — she knew it now — a broken heart. 

" His blessing on you, dearest love. Kiss me once more ! He suffered 
her to sit beside His feet, and dry them with her hair. Oh Meg, what 
Mercy and Compassion ! " 

As she died, the Spirit of the child returning, innocent and radiant, 
touched the old man with its hand, and beckoned him away. 



FOURTH QUARTER 

Some new remembrance of the ghostly figures in the Bell ; some faint 
impression of the ringing of the Chimes ; some giddy consciousness of 
having seen the swarm of phantoms reproduced and reproduced until 
the recollection of them lost itself in the confusion of their numbers ; 
some hurried knowledge, how conveyed to him he knew not, that more 
years had passed ; and Trotty, with the Spirit of the child attending him, 
stood looking on at mortal company. 

Fat company, rosy-cheeked company, comfortable company. They 
were but two, but they were red enough for ten. They sat before a 
bright fire with a small low table between them ; and unless the frag- 
rance of hot tea and muffins Hngered longer in that room than in most 
others, the table had seen service very lately. But all the cups and saucers 
being clean, and in their proper places in the corner cupboard ; and the 
brass toasting-fork hanging in its usual nook, and spreading its four idle 
fingers out, as if it wanted to be measured for a glove ; there remained 
no other visible tokens of the meal just finished, than such as purred and 
washed their whiskers in the person of the basking cat, and glistened in the 
gracious, not to say the greasy, faces of her patrons. 



THE CHIMES 105 

This cosy couple (married, evidently) had made a fair division of the 
fire between them, and sat looking at the glovi^ing sparks that dropped 
into the grate ; now nodding off into a doze ; now waking up again when 
some hot fragment, larger than the rest, came ratthng down, as if the fire 
were coming with it. 

It was in no danger of sudden extinction, however ; for it gleamed 
not only in the httle room, and on the panes of window-glass in the door, 
and on the curtain half drawn across them, but in the Httle shop beyond. 
A Httle shop, quite crammed and choked with the abundance of its stock ; 
a perfectly voracious little shop, with a maw as accommodating and full 
as any shark's. Cheese, butter, firewood, soap, pickles, matches, bacon, 
table-beer, peg-tops, sweet meats, boys' kites, bird-seed, cold ham, birch 
brooms, hearth-stones, salt, vinegar, blacking, red-herrings, stationery, 
lard, mushroom-ketchup, stay-laces, loaves of bread, shuttlecocks, eggs, 
and slate pencil : everything was fish that came to the net of this greedy 
Httle shop, and all these articles were in its net. How many other kinds 
of petty merchandise were there, it would be difficult to say ; but baUs 
of packthread, ropes of onions, pounds of candles, cabbage-nets, and 
brushes, hung in bunches from the ceiHng, like extraordinary fruit ; 
while various odd canisters emitting aromatic smeUs, estabHshed the 
veracity of the inscription over the outer door, which informed the 
public that the keeper of this little shop was a Hcensed dealer in tea, 
coffee, tobacco, pepper, and snuff. 

Glancing at such of these articles as were visible in the shining of the 
blaze, and the less cheerful radiance of two smoky lamps which burnt but 
dimly in the shop itself, as though its plethora sat heavy on their lungs ; 
and glancing, then, at one of the two faces by the parlour-fire ; Trotty 
had small difficulty in recognising in the stout old lady, Mrs. Chicken- 
staiker : always incHned to corpulency, even in the days when he had 
known her as estabHshed in the general line, and having a smaU balance 
against him in her books. 

The features of her companion were less easy to him. The great broad 
chin, with creases in it large enough to hide a finger in ; the astonished 
eyes, that seemed to expostulate with themselves for sinking deeper and 
deeper into the yielding fat of the soft face ; the nose afflicted with 
that disordered action of its functions which is generally termed The 
SnuflBes ; the short thick throat and labouring chest, with other beauties 
of the Hke description ; though calculated to impress the memory, 
Trotty could at first allot to nobody he had ever known : and yet he had 
some recoUection of them too. At length, in Mrs. Chickenstalker's 
partner in the general Hne, and in the crooked and eccentric Hne of Hfe, 
he recognised the former porter of Sir Joseph Bowley ; an apoplectic 
innocent, who had connected himself in Trotty's mind with Mrs. 
Chickenstalker years ago, by giving him admission to the mansion where 
he had confessed his obHgations to that lady, and drawn on his unlucky 
head such grave reproach. 

cc. d' 



io6 THE CHIMES 

Trotty had little interest in a change Hke this, after the changes he had 
seen • but association is ver)- strong sometimes : and he looked involun- 
tarily behind the parlour-door, where the accounts of credit customers 
were usually kept in chalk. There was no record of his name Some 
names were there, but they were strange to him, and mfimtely fewer 
than of old ; from which he augured that the porter was an advocate 
of ready money transactions, and on coming into the business had looked 
pretty sharp after the Chickenstalker defaulters. , ^ • 

So desolate was Trotty, and so mournful for the youth and promise 
of his blighted child, that it was a sorrow to him, even to have no place 
in Mrs. Chickenstallcer's ledger. ,„..,,. , r 

" What sort of a night is it, Anne ? " inquired the former porter of 
Sir Toseph Bowley, stretching out his legs before the fire, and rubbing 
as niuch of them as his short arms could reach : with an air that added, 
" Here I am if it's bad, and I don't want to go out if it's good." 

" Blowing and sleeting hard,'^' returned his wife ; " and threatening 
snow Dark. And very cold." 

"I'm glad to think we had muffins," said the former porter, 
in the tone of one who had set his conscience at rest. " It's a sort 
of night that's meant for muffins. Likewise crumpets. Also Sally 

The former porter mentioned each successive kind of ft^ble, as if he 
were musingly summing up his good actions. After which he rubbed his 
fat legs as before, and jerking them at the knees to get the fire upon the 
yet unroasted parts, laughed as if somebody had tickled him. 

" You're in spirits, Tugby, my dear," observed his wife. 

The firm was Tugby, late Chickenstalker. v i i . ^ 

"No," said Tugby. " No. Not particular. I'm a httle elewated. 

The muffins came so pat ! " , , , • i r j i, j 

With that he chuckled until he was black in the face ; and had so 
much ado to become any other colour, that his fat legs took the strangest 
Excursions into the air. Nor were they reduced to anything hke decorum 
until Mrs. Tugby had thumped him violently on the back, and shaken 
him as if he were a great bottle. 

"Good gracious, goodness, lord-a-mercy bkss and save the man ! 
cried Mrs Tugby- in great terror. " -What's he doing ? 
Mr!Tugby wiped his eyes, and faintly repeated that he found himself 

' '' TletT^'be so again, that's a dear good soul," said Mrs Tugby 
" if you don't want to frighten me to death, with your strugghng and 

^^mT Tueby said he wouldn't, but his whole existence was a fight ; 
in which, if any judgment might be founded on the constants-increasing 
shonness of hi breath, and the deepening purple of his face, he was 

''"^Xit'rblowfnlTnTsleeting, and threatening snow ; and is dark, and 



THE CHIMES 107 

very cold : is it, my dear ? " said Mr. Tugby, looking at the fire, and 
reverting to the cream and marrow of his temporary elevation. 

" Hard weather indeed," returned his wife, shaking her head. 

" Ay, ay ! Years," said Mr. Tugby, " are Hke Christians in that 
respect. Some of 'em die hard ; some of 'em die easy. This one 
hasn't many days to run, and is making a fight for it. I like him all the 
better. There's a customer, my love ! " 

Attentive to the ratthng door, Mrs. Tugby had already risen. 

" Now then ! " said that lady, passing out into the little shop. " What's 
wanted ? Oh ! I beg your pardon, sir, I'm sure. I didn't think it was 
you." 

She made this apology to a gentleman in black, who, with his wrist- 
bands tucked up, and his hat cocked loungingly on one side, and his hands 
in his pockets, sat down astride on the table-beer barrel, and nodded in 
return. 

" This is a bad business up stairs, Mrs. Tugby," said the gentleman. 
" The man can't live." 

" Not the back-attic can't ! " cried Tugby, coming out into the shop 
to join the conference. 

" The back-attic, Mr. Tugby," said the gentleman, " is coming down 
stairs fast ; and will be below the basement very soon." 

Looking by turns at Tugby and his wife, he sounded the barrel with 
his knuckles for the depth of beer, and having found it, played a tune 
upon the empty part. 

" The back-attic, Mr. Tugby," said the gentleman : Tugby having 
stood in silent consternation for some time : " is Going." 

" Then," said Tugby, turning to his wife, " he must Go, you know, 
before he's Gone." 

" I don't think you can move him," said the gentleman, shaking his 
head. " I wouldn't take the responsibiUty of saying it could be done 
myself. You had better leave him where he is. He can't live long." 

" It's the only subject," said Tugby, bringing the butterscale down 
upon the counter with a crash, by weighing his fist on it, " that we've ever 
had a word upon ; she and me ; and look what it comes to ! He's going 
to die here, after all. Going to die upon the premises. Going to die 
in our house 1 " 

" And where should he have died, Tugby ? " cried his wife. 

" In the workhouse," he returned. " What are workhouses made 
for ? " 

" Not for that," said Mrs. Tugby, with great energy. " Not for that. 
Neither did I marry you for that. Don't think it, Tugby. I won't 
have it. I won't allow it. I'd be separated first, and never see your 
face again. When my widow's name stood over that door, as it did for 
many years : this house being known as Mrs. Chickenstalker's far and 
wide, and never known but to its honest credit and its good report : when 
my widow's name stood over that door, Tugby, I knew him as a handsome. 



io8 THE CHIMES 

steady, manly, independent youth ; I knew her as the sweetest-looking, 
sweetest-tempered girl, eyes ever saw ; I knew her father (poor old 
creetur, he fell down from the steeple walking in his sleep, and killed 
himself), for the simplest, hardest-working, childest-hearted man, that 
ever drew the breath of life ; and when I turn them out of house and 
home, may angels turn me out of Heaven. As they would ! And serve 
me right ! " 

Her old face, which had been a plump and dimpled one before the 
changes which had come to pass, seemed to shine out of her as she said 
these words ; and when she dried her eyes, and shook her head and her 
handkerchief at Tugby,with an expression of firmness which it was quite 
clear was not to be easily resisted, Trotty said,^" Bless her ! Bless her ! " 

Then he listened, with a panting heart, for what should follow. 
Knowing nothing yet, but that they spoke of Meg. 

If Tugby had been a little elevated in the parlour, he more than 
balanced that account by being not a little depressed in the shop, where 
he now stood staring at his wife, without attempting a reply ; secretly 
conveying, however — either in a fit of abstraction or as a precautionary 
measure — all the money from the till into his own pockets, as he looked 
at her. 

The gentleman upon the table-beer cask, who appeared to be some 
authorised medical attendant upon the poor, was far too well accustomed, 
evidently, to httle differences of opinion between man and wife, to 
interpose any remark in this instance. He sat softly whistling, and turn- 
ing little drops of beer out of the tap upon the ground, until there was a 
perfect calm : when he raised his head, and said to Mrs. Tugby, late 
Chickenstalker : 

" There's something interesting about the woman, even now. How 
did she come to marry him ? " 

" Why that," said Mrs. Tugby, taking a seat near him, " is not the 
least cruel part of her story, sir. You see they kept company, she and 
Richard, many years ago. When they were a young and beautiful 
couple, everything was settled, and they were to have been married 
on a New Year's Day. But, somehow, Richard got it into his head, 
through what the gentlemen told him, that he might do better, and 
that he'd soon repent it, and that she wasn't good enough for him, and 
that a young man of spirit had no business to be married. And the 
gentlemen frightened her, and made her melancholy, and timid of his 
deserting her, and of her children coming to the gallows, and of its being 
wicked to be man and wife, and a good deal more of it. And, in short, 
they Hngered and lingered, and their trust in one another was broken, 
and so at last was the match. But the fault was his. She would have 
married him, sir, joyfully. I've seen her heart swell, many times 
afterwards, when he passed her in a proud and careless way ; and never 
did a woman grieve more truly for a man, than she for Richard when he 
first went wrong." 



THE CHIMES 109 

" Oh ! he went wrong, did he ? " said the gentleman, pulling out the 
vent-peg of the table beer, and trying to peep down into the barrel 
through the hole. 

" Well, sir, I don't know that he rightly understood himself, you see. 
I think his mind was troubled by their having broke with one another ; 
and that but for being ashamed before the gentlemen, and perhaps 
for being uncertain too, how she might take it, he'd have gone through 
any suffering or trial to have had Meg's promise and Meg's hand again. 
That's my behef . He never said so ; more's the pity ! He took to 
drinking, idling, bad companions : all the fine resources that were to be 
so much better for him than the Home he might have had. He lost 
his looks, his character, his health, his strength, his friends, his work : 
everything ! " 

" He didn't lose everything, Mrs. Tugby," returned the gentleman, 
" because he gained a wife ; and I want to know how he gained her." 

" I'm coming to it, sir, in a moment. This went on for years and 
years ; he sinking lower and lower ; she enduring, poor thing, miseries 
enough to wear her life away. At last, he was so cast down, and cast 
out, that no one would employ or notice him ; and doors were shut upon 
him, go where he would. Applying from place to place, and door to 
door ; and coming for the hundredth time to one gentleman who had 
often and often tried him (he was a good workman to the very end) ; 
that gentleman, who knew his history, said, ' I beHeve you are incor- 
rigible ; there is only one person in the world who has a chance of 
reclaiming you ; ask me to trust you no more, until she tries to do it.' 
Something like that, in his anger and vexation." 

" Ah ! " said the gentleman. " Well ? " 

" Well, sir, he went to her, and kneeled to her ; said it was so ; said it 
ever had been so ; and made a prayer to her to save him." 

" And she — Don't distress yourself, Mrs. Tugby." 

" She came to me that night to ask me about|living here. ' What he was 
once to me,' she said, * is buried in a grave ; side by side with what I was 
to him. But I have thought of this ; and I will make the trial. In the 
hope of saving him ; for the love of the hght-hearted girl (you remember 
her) who was to have been married on a New Year's Day ; and for the 
love of her Richard.' And she said he had come to her from Lihan, and 
Lihan had trusted to him, and she could never forget that. So they were 
married ; and when they came home here, and I saw them, I hoped that 
such prophecies as parted them when they were young may not often 
fulfil themselves as they did in this case, or I wouldn't be the makers of 
them for a Mine of Gold." 

The gentleman got off the cask, and stretched himself, observing : 

" I suppose he used her ill, as soon as they were married ? " 

" I don't think he ever did that," said Mrs. Tugby, shaking her head, 
and wiping her eyes. " He went on better for a short time ; but, his 
habits were too old and strong to be got rid of ; he soon fell back a little ; 



no THE CHIMES 

and was falling fast back, when his illness came so strong upon him. I 
think he has always felt for her. I am sure he has. I have seen him, 
in his crying fits and trembHngs, try to kiss her hand ; and I have heard 
him call her ' Meg,' and say it was her nineteenth birthday. There he 
has been lying, now, these weeks and months. Between him and her baby, 
she has not been able to do her old work ; and by not being able to be 
regular, she has lost it, even if she could have done it. How they have 
lived, I hardly know ! " 

" / know," muttered Mr. Tugby ; looking at the till, and round the 
shop, and at his wife ; and rolling his head with immense intelligence. 
" Like Fighting Cocks ! " 

He was interrupted by a cry — a sound of lamentation — from the 
upper storey of the house. The gentleman moved hurriedly to the door 

" My friend," he said, looking back, " you needn't discuss whether 
he shall be removed or not. He has spared you that trouble, I believe." 

Saying so, he ran up stairs, followed by Mrs. Tugby ; while Mr. Tugby 
panted and grumbled after them at leisure : being rendered more than 
commonly short-winded by the weight of the till, in which there had 
been an inconvenient quantity of copper. Trotty, with the child beside 
him, floated up the staircase like mere air. 

" Follow her ! Follow her ! Follow her ! " He heard the ghostly 
voices in the Bells repeat their words as he ascended. " Learn it, from 
the creature dearest to your heart ! " 

It was over. It was over. And this was she, her father's pride and 
joy ! This haggard, wretched woman, weeping by the bed, if it deserved 
that name, and pressing to her breast, and hanging down her head upon, 
an infant. Who can tell how spare, how sickly, and how poor an infant ? 
Who can tell how dear ? 

" Thank God ! " cried Trotty, holding up his folded hands. " Oh, 
God be thanked ! She loves her child ! " 

The gentleman, not otherwise hard-hearted or indifferent to such 
scenes, than that he saw them every day, and knew that they were figures 
of no moment in the Filer sums — mere scratches in the working of these 
calculations — laid his hand upon the heart that beat no more, and 
listened for the breath, and said, " His pain is over. It's better as it 
is ! " Mrs. Tugby tried to comfort her with kindness. Mr. Tugby 
tried philosophy. 

" Come, come ! " he said, with his hands in his pockets, " you mustn't 
give way, you know. That won't do. You must fight up. What 
would have become of me if / had given way when I was porter ; and we 
had as many as six runaway carriage-doubles at our door in one night ! 
But I fell back upon my strength of mind, and didn't open it ! " 

Again Trotty heard the voices, saying, " Follow her ! " He turned 
towards his guide, and saw it rising from him, passing through the air. 
" Follow her ! " it said. And vanished. 

He hovered round her ; sat down at her feet ; looked up into her 



THE CHIMES iii 

face for one trace of her old self ; listened for one note of her old pleasant 
voice. He flitted round the child : so wan, so prematurely old, so 
dreadful in its gravity, so plaintive in its feeble, mournful, miserable 
wail. He almost worshipped it. He clung to it as her only safeguard ; 
as the last unbroken link that bound her to endurance. He set his 
father's hope and trust on the frail baby ; watched her every look upon 
it as she held it in her arms ; and cried a thousand times, " She loves 
it ! God be thanked, she loves it ! " 

He saw the woman tend her in the night ; return to her when her 
grudging husband was asleep, and all was still ; encourage her, shed 
tears with her, set nourishment before her. He saw the day come, and 
the night again ; the day, the night ; the time go by ; the house of 
death reheved of death ; the room left to herself and to the child ; he 
heard it moan and cry ; he saw it harass her, and tire her out, and when 
she slumbered in exhaustion, drag her back to consciousness, and hold 
her with its Httle hands upon the rack ; but she was constant to it, gentle 
with it, patient with it. Patient ! Was its loving mother in her inmost 
heart and soul, and had its Being knitted up with hers as when she carried 
it unborn. 

All this time, she was in want : languishing away, in dire and pining 
want. With the baby in her arms, she wandered here and there, in quest 
of occupation ; and with its thin face lying in her lap, and looking up 
in hers, did any work for any wretched sum : a day and night of labour 
for as many farthings as there were figures on the dial. If she had 
quarrelled with it ; if she had neglected it ; if she had looked upon it 
with a moment's hate ; if, in the frenzy of an instant, she had struck it ! 
No. His comfort was. She loved it always. 

She told no one of her extremity, and wandered abroad in the day 
lest she should be questioned by her only friend : for any help she received 
from her hands, occasioned fresh disputes between the good woman and 
her husband ; and it was new bitterness to be the daily cause of strife and 
discord, where she owed so much. 

She loved it still. She loved it more and more. But a change fell on 
the aspect of her love. One night. 

She was singing faintly to it in its sleep, and walking to and fro to hush 
it, when her door was softly opened, and a man looked in. 

" For the last time," he said. 

" WiUiam Fern ! " 

" For the last time." 

He Hstened like a man pursued : and spoke in whispers. 

" Margaret, my race is nearly run. I couldn't finish it, without a 
parting word with you. Without one grateful word." 

" What have you done ? " she asked : regarding him with terror. 

He looked at her, but gave no answer. 

After a short silence, he made a gesture with his hand, as if he set her 
question by ; as if he brushed it aside ; and said, 



112 THE CHIMES 

" It's long ago, Margaret, now : but that night is as fresh in my 
memory as ever 'twas. We little thought, then," he added, looking 
round, " that we should ever meet like this. Your child, Margaret f 
Let me have it in my arms. Let me hold your child." 

He put his hat upon the floor, and took it. And he trembled, as he 
took it, from head to foot. 

" Is it a girl ? " 

" Yes." 

He put his hand before its little face. 

" See how weak I'm grown, Margaret, when I want the courage to look 
at it ! Let her be a moment. I won't hurt her. It's long ago, but — 
What's her name ? " 

" Margaret," she answered, quickly. 

" I'm glad of that," he said. " I'm glad of that." 

He seemed to breathe more freely ; and after pausing for an instant, 
took away his hand, and looked upon the infant's face. But covered it 
again, immediately. 

" Margaret ! " he said ; and gave her back the child. " It's Lihan's." 

" Lilian's ! " 

" I held the same face in my arms when Lihan's mother died and 
left her." 

" When Lihan's mother died and left her ! " she repeated, wildly. 

" How shrill you speak ! Why do you fix your eyes upon me so f 
Margaret ! " 

She sank down in a chair, and pressed the infant to her breast, and 
wept over it. Sometimes, she released it from her embrace, to look 
anxiously in its face : then strained it to her bosom again. At those 
times : when she gazed upon it : then it was that something fierce and 
terrible began to mingle with her love. Then it was that her old father 
quailed. 

" Follow her ! " was sounded through the house. " Learn it, from 
the creature dearest to your heart ! " 

" Margaret," said Fern, bending over her, and kissing her upon the 
brow : " I thank you for the last time. Good night. Good bye. 
Put your hand in mine, and tell me you'll forget me from this hour, and 
try to think the end of me was here." 

" What have you done ! " she asked again. 

" There'll be a Fire to-night," he said, removing from her. " There'll 
be Fires this winter-time, to light the dark nights. East, West, North, 
and South. When you see the distant sky red, they'll be blazing. When 
you see the distant sky red, think of me no more ; or if you do, remember 
what a Hell was lighted up inside of me, and think you see its flames 
reflected in the clouds. Good night. Good bye ! " 

She called to him ; but he was gone. She sat down, stupefied, until 
her infant roused her to a sense of hunger, cold, and darkness. She paced 
the room with it the Hvelong night, hushing it and soothing it. She 



THE CHIMES 113 

said at intervals, " Like Lilian, when her mother died and left her ! " 
Why was her step so quick, her eye so wild, her love so fierce and terrible, 
whenever she repeated those words ? 

" But it is Love," said Trotty. " It is Love. She'll never cease to 
love it. My poor Meg ! " 

She dressed the child next morning with unusual care — ah vain 
expenditure of care upon such squalid robes ! — and once more tried to 
find some means of life. It was the last day of the Old Year. She tried 
till night, and never broke her fast. She tried in vain. 

She mingled with an abject crowd, who tarried in the snow, until it 
pleased some officer appointed to dispense the public charity (the lawful 
charity ; not that once preached upon a Mount) to call them in, and 
question them, and say to this one, " Go to such a place," to that one, 
" Come next week ; " to make a football of another wretch, and pass him 
here and there, from hand to hand, from house to house, until he 
wearied and lay down to die ; or started up and robbed, and so became a 
higher sort of criminal, whose claims allowed of no delay. Here, too, she 
failed. 

She loved her child, and wished to have it lying on her breast. And 
that was quite enough. 

It was night : a bleak, dark, cutting night : when, pressing the child 
close to her for warmth, she arrived outside the house she called her home. 
She was so faint and giddy, that she saw no one standing in the doorway 
until she was close upon it, and about to enter. Then she recognised 
the master of the house, who had so disposed himself — ^with his person 
it was not difficult — as to fill up the whole entry. 
" Oh ! " he said, softly. " You have come back ? " 
She looked at the child, and shook her head. 

" Don't you think you have lived here long enough without paying 
any rent ? Don't you think that, without any money, you've been a 
pretty constant customer at this shop, now ? " said Mr. Tugby. 
She repeated the same mute appeal. 

" Suppose you try and deal somewhere else," he said. " And suppose 
you provide yourself with another lodging. Come ! Don't you think 
you could manage it ? " 

She said, in a low voice, that it was very late. To-morrow. 
" Now I see what you want," said Tugby ; " and what you mean. 
You know there are two parties in this house about you, and you delight 
in setting 'em by the ears. I don't want any quarrels ; I'm speaking 
softly to avoid a quarrel ; but if you don't go away, I'll speak out loud, 
and you shall cause words high enough to please you. But you shan't 
come in. That I am determined." 

She put her hair back with her hand, and looked in a sudden manner at 
the sky, and the dark lowering distance. 

" This is the last night of an Old Year : and I won't carry ill-blood 
and quarrellings and disturbances into a New One, to please you nor 



114 THE CHIMES 

anybody else," said Tugby, who was quite a retail Friend and Father. 
*' I wonder you ain't ashamed o£ yourself, to carry such practices into a 
New Year. If you haven't any business in the world, but to be always 
giving way, and always making disturbances between man and wife, 
you'd be better out of it. Go along with you." 

" Follow her ! To desperation ! " 

Again the old man heard the voices. Looking up, he saw the figures 
hovering in the air, and pointing where she went, down the dark 
street. 

" She loves it ! " he exclaimed, in agonised entreaty for her. " Chimes ! 
she loves it still ! " 

" Follow her ! " The shadows swept upon the track she had taken, 
like a cloud. 

He joined in the pursuit ; he kept close to her ; he looked into her 
face. He saw the same fierce and terrible expression minghng with her 
love, and kindling in her eyes. He heard her say, " Like Lilian ! To be 
changed like Lilian ! " and her speed redoubled. 

Oh, for something to awaken her. For any sight, or sound, or scent, 
to call up tender recollections in a brain on fire ! For any gentle image 
of the Past, to rise before her ! 

" I was her father ! I was her father ! " cried the old man, stretching 
out his hands to the dark shadows flying on above. " Have mercy 
on her, and on me ! Where does she go ? Turn her back ! I was 
her father ! " 

But they only pointed to her, as she hurried on ; and said, " To 
desperation ! Learn it from the creature dearest to your heart ! " 

A hundred voices echoed it. The air was made of breath expended 
in those words. He seemed to take them in, at every gasp he drew. 
They were everywhere, and not to be escaped. And still she hurried 
on ; the same light in her eyes, the same words in her mouth ; " Like 
Lilian ! To be changed like Lilian ! " 

All at once she stopped. 

" Now, turn her back ! " exclaimed the old man, tearing his white 
hair. " My child ! Meg ! Turn her back ! Great Father, turn her 
back ! " 

In her own scanty shawl, she wrapped the baby warm. With her 
fevered hands, she smoothed its limbs, composed its face, arranged its 
mean attire. In her wasted arms she folded it, as though she never 
would resign it more. And with her dry Hps, kissed it in a final pang, and 
last long agony of Love. 

Putting its tiny hand up to her neck, and holding it there, within 
her dress : next to her distracted heart : she set its sleeping face 
against ^her : closely, steadily, against her : and sped onward to the 
River. 

To the rolling River, swift and dim, where Winter Night sat brooding 
like the last dark thoughts of many who had sought a refuge there before 



THE CHIMES 115 

her. Where scattered Ughts upon the banks gleamed sullen, red, and 
dull, as torches that were burning there, to show the way to Deatli. 
Where no abode of Hving people cast its shadow, on the deep, impene- 
trable, melancholy shade. 

To the River ! To that portal of Eternity, her desperate footsteps 
tended with the swiftness of its rapid waters running to the sea. He 
tried to touch her as she passed him, going down to its dark level ; but 
the wild distempered form, the fierce and terrible love, the desperation 
that had left all human check or hold behind, swept by him like the 
wind. 

He followed her. She paused a moment on the brink, before the 
dreadful plunge. He fell down on his knees, and in a shriek addressed 
the figures in the Bells now hovering above them. 

" I have learnt it ! " cried the old man. " From the creature dearest 
to my heart ! Oh, save her, save her ! " 

He could wind his fingers in her dress ; could hold it ! As the words 
escaped his lips, he felt his sense of touch return, and knew that he 
detained her. 

The figures looked down steadfastly upon him. 

" I have learnt it ! " cried the old man. " Oh, have mercy on me in 
this hour, if, in my love for her, so young and good, I slandered Nature 
in the breasts of mothers rendered desperate ! Pity my presumption, 
wickedness, and ignorance, and save her ! " 

He felt his hold relaxing. They were silent still. 

" Have mercy on her ! " he exclaimed, " as one in whom this dreadful 
crime has sprung from Love perverted ; from the strongest, deepest 
Love we fallen creatures know ! Think what her misery must have 
been, when such seed bears such fruit ! Heaven meant her to be good. 
There is no loving mother on the earth who might not come to this, if 
such a hfe had gone before. Oh, have mercy on my child, who, even at 
this pass, means mercy to her own, and dies herself, and perils her Immortal 
Soul, to save it ! " 

She was in his arms. He held her now. His strength was like a 
giant's. 

" I see the Spirit of the Chimes among you ! " cried the old man, 
singling out the child, and speaking in some inspiration, which their 
looks conveyed to him. " I know that our inheritance is held in store 
for us by Time. I know there is a Sea of Time to rise one day, before 
which all who wrong us or oppress us will be swept away like leaves. I 
see it, on the flow ! I know that we must trust and hope, and neither 
doubt ourselves, nor doubt the Good in one another. I have learnt it 
from the creature dearest to my heart. I clasp her in my arms again. 
Oh Spirits, merciful and good, I take your lesson to my breast along with 
her ! Oh Spirits, merciful and good, I am grateful ! " 

He might have said more, but the Bells ; the old famiHar Bells, his 
own dear, constant, steady friends, the Chimes ; began to ring the joy- 



ii6 THE CHIMES 

peals for a New Year .so lustily, so merrily, so happily, so gaily, that he 
leapt upon his feet, and broke the spell that bound him. 

" And whatever you do, father," said Meg, " don't eat tripe again, 
without asking some doctor whether it's hkely to agree with you ; for 
how you have been going on, Good gracious ! " 

She was working with her needle, at the little table by the fire ; dressing 
her simple gown with ribbons for her wedding. So quietly happy, so 
blooming and youthful, so full of beautiful promise, that he uttered a 
great cry as if it were an Angel in his house ; then flew to clasp her in his 
arms. 

But he caught his feet in the newspaper, which had fallen on the hearth ; 
and somebody came rushing in between them. 

" No ! " cried the voice of this same somebody ; a generous and jolly 
voice it was ! " Not even you. Not even you. The first kiss of Meg 
in the New Year is mine. Mine ! I have been waiting outside the house, 
this hour, to hear the Bells and claim it. Meg, my precious prize, a 
happy year ! A life of happy years, my darling wife ! " 

And Richard smothered her with kisses. 

You never in all your life saw anything like Trotty after this. I don't 
care where you have lived or what you have seen ; you never in your 
hfe saw anything at all approaching him ! He sat down in his chair 
and beat his knees and cried ; he sat down in his chair and beat his 
knees and laughed ; he sat down in his chair and beat his knees and laughed 
and cried together ; he got out of his chair and hugged Meg ; he got out 
of his chair and hugged Richard ; he got out of his chair and hugged 
them both at once ; he kept running up to Meg, and squeezing her fresh 
face between his hands and kissing it, going from her backwards not to 
lose sight of it, and running up again like a figure in a magic lantern ; 
and whatever he did, he was constantly sitting himself down in this 
chair, and never stopping in it for one single moment ; being — that's the 
truth — beside himself with joy. 

" And to-morrow's your wedding day, my pet ! " cried Trotty. " Your 
real, happy wedding day ! " 

" To-day ! " cried Richard, shaking hands with him. " To-day. The 
Chimes are ringing in the New Year. Hear them ! " 

They WERE ringing ! Bless their sturdy hearts, they were ringing ! 
Great Bells as they were : melodious, deep-mouthed, noble Bells ; cast 
in no common metal ; made by no common founder ; when had they 
ever chimed like that before ! 

" But to-day, my Pet," said Trotty. " You and Richard had some 
words to-day." 

" Because he's such a bad fellow, father," said Meg. " Ain't you, 
Richard ? Such a headstrong, violent man ! He'd have made no more 
of speaking his mind to that great Alderman, and putting him down I 
don't know where, than he would of " 

" — Kissing Meg," suggested Richard. Doing it too ! 



I 



THE CHIMES 117 

" No. Not a bit more," said Meg. " But I wouldn't let him, father. 
Where would have been the use ? " 

" Richard, my hoy ! " cried Trotty. " You was turned up Trumps 
originally ; and Trumps you must be, till you die ! But you were 
crying by the fire to-night, my pet, when I came home ! Why did you 
cry by the fire ? " 

" I was thinking of the years we've passed together, father. Only that. 
And thinking you might miss me, and be lonely." 

Trotty was backing off to that extraordinary chair again, when the 
child, who had been awakened by the noise, came running in half 
dressed. 

" Why here she is ! " cried Trotty, catching her up. " Here's little 
Lilian ! Ha, ha, ha ! Here we are and here we go ! Oh here we are 
and here we go again ! And here we are and here we go ! and Uncle 
Will too ! " Stopping in his trot to greet him heartily. " Oh, Uncle 
Will, the vision that I've had to-night, through lodging you ! Oh, 
Uncle Will, the obligations that you've laid me under, by your coming, my 
good friend ! " 

Before Will Fern could make the least reply, a band of music burst 
into the room, attended by a lot of neighbours, screaming " A Happy 
New Year, Meg ! " " A Happy Wedding ! " " Many of 'em ! " and other 
fragmentary good wishes of that sort. The Drum (who was a private 
friend of Trotty's) then stepped forward, and said : 

" Trotty Veck, my boy ! It's got about, that your daughter is going 
to be married to-morrow. There ain't a soul that knows you that 
don't vdsh you well, or that knows her and don't wish her well. Or 
that knows you both, and don't wish you both all the happiness the 
New Year can bring. And here we are, to play it in and dance it in, 
accordingly." 

Which was received with a general shout. The Drum was rather 
drunk, by the bye ; but never mind. 

" What a happiness it is, I'm sure," said Trotty, " to be so esteemed ! 
How kind and neighbourly you are ! It's all along of my dear daughter. 
She deserves it ! " 

They were ready for a dance in half a second (Meg and Richard at the 
top) ; and the Drum was on the very brink of leathering away with all 
his power ; when a combination of prodigious sounds was heard outside, 
and a good-humoured comely woman of some fifty years of age, or 
thereabouts, came running in, attended by a man bearing a stone 
pitcher of terrific size, and closely followed by the marrowbones and 
cleavers, and the bells ; not the Bells, but a portable collection on a 
frame. 

Trotty said, " It's Mrs. Chickenstalker ! " And sat down, and beat 
his knees again. 

" Married, and not tell me, Meg ! " cried the good woman. " Never ! 
I couldn't rest on the last night of the Old Year without coming to wish 



ii8 THE CHIME S 

you joy. I couldn't have done it, Meg. Not if I had been bedridden. 
So here I am ; and as it's New Year's Eve, and the Eve of your wedding 
too, my dear, I had a little flip made, and brought it with me." 

Mrs. Chickenstalker's notion of a little flip, did honour to her character. 
The pitcher steamed and smoked and reeked like a volcano ; and the 
man who had carried it, was faint. 

" Mrs. Tugby ! " said Trotty, who had been going round and round 
her, in an ecstasy. " I should say, Chickenstalker — Bless your heart and 
soul ! A Happy New Year, and many of 'em ! Mrs. Tugby," said 
Trotty when he had saluted her ; " I should say, Chickenstalker — This is 
WilHam Fern and Lilian." 

The worthy dame, to his surprise, turned very pale and very red. 

" Not Lilian Fern whose mother died in Dorsetshire ! " said she. 

Her uncle answered " Yes," and meeting hastily, they exchanged some 
hurried words together, of which the upshot was, that Mrs. Chicken- 
stalker shook him by both hands ; saluted Trotty on his cheek again, of 
her own free will ; and took the child to her capacious breast. 

" Will Fern ! " said Trotty, pulHng on his right-hand muffler. " Not 
the friend that you was hoping to find ? " 

" Ay ! " returned Will, putting a hand on each of Trotty's shoulders. 
" And like to prove a'most as good a friend, if that can be, as one I 
found." 

" Oh ! " said Trotty. " Please to play up there. Will you have the 
goodness ! " 

To the music of the band, the bells, the marrow-bones and cleavers, 
all at once ; and while the Chimes were yet in lusty operation out of 
doors ; Trotty, making Meg and Richard second couple, led off Mrs. 
Chickenstalker down the dance, and danced it in a step unknown before 
or since ; founded on his own peculiar trot. 

Had Trotty dreamed ? Or are his joys and sorrows, and the actors 
in them, but a dream ; himself a dream ; the teller of this tale a dreamer, 
waking but now ? If it be so, oh Listener, dear to him in all his visions, 
try to bear in mind the stern reahties from which these shadows come ; 
and in your sphere — none is too wdde, and none too Hmited for such an 
end — endeavour to correct, improve, and soften them. So may the 
New Year be a Happy one to You, Happy to many more whose Happi- 
ness depends on You ! So may each year be happier than the last, and 
not the meanest of our brethren or sisterhood debarred their rightful 
share, in what our Great Creator formed them to enjoy. 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH : A FAIRT 
TALE OF HOME 



CHIRP THE FIRST 

The Kettle began it ! Don't tell me what Mrs. Peerybingle said. I 
know better. Mrs. Peerybingle may leave it on record to the end of 
time that she couldn't say which of them began it ; but, I say the Kettle 
did. I ought to know, I hope ? The Kettle began it, full five minutes 
by the little waxy-faced Dutch clock in the corner before the Cricket 
uttered a chirp. 

As if the clock hadn't finished striking, and the convulsive little 
HajTnaker at the top of it, jerking away right and left with a scythe 
in front of a Moorish Palace, hadn't mowed down half an acre of imagi- 
nary grass before the Cricket joined in at all ! 

Why, I am not naturally positive. Every one knows that. I wouldn't 
set my own opinion against the opinion of Mrs. Peerybingle, unless I were 
quite sure, on any account whatever. Nothing should induce me. 
But this is a question of fact. And the fact is, that the Kettle began it, 
at least five minutes before the Cricket gave any sign of being in exis- 
tence. Contradict me : and I'll say ten. 

Let me narrate exactly how it happened. I should have proceeded to 
do so, in my very first word, but for this plain consideration — if I am 
to tell a story I must begin at the beginning ; and how is it possible to 
begin at the beginning, without beginning at the Kettle .? 

It appeared as if there were a sort of match, or trial of skill, you must 
understand, between the Kettle and the Cricket. And this is what led 
to it, and how it came about. 

Mrs. Peerybingle, going out into the raw twilight, and clicking over 
the wet stones in a pair of pattens that worked innumerable rough 
impressions of the first proposition in Euclid all about the yard — Mrs. 
Peerybingle filled the Kettle at the water-butt. Presently returning, less 
the pattens : and a good deal less, for they were tall and Mrs. Peerybingle 
was but short : she set the Kettle on the fire. In doing which she lost 
her temper, or mislaid it for an instant ; for, the water — being uncom- 
fortably cold, and in that slippy, slushy, sleety sort of state wherein it 
seems to penetrate through every kind of substance, patten rings included 
— had laid hold of Mrs. Peerybingle's toes, and even splashed her legs. 
And when we rather plume ourselves (with reason too) upon our legs, and 
keep ourselves particularly neat in point of stockings, we find this, for the 
moment, hard to bear. 

Besides, the Kettle was aggravating and obstinate. It wouldn't allow 
itself to be adjusted on the top bar ; it wouldn't hear of accommodating 
itseK kindly to the knobs of coal ; it would lean forward with a drunken 
air, and dribble, a very Idiot of a Kettle, on the hearth. It was quarrel- 

119 



120 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

some ; and hissed and spluttered morosely at the fire. To sum up all, the 
lid, resisting Mrs. Peerybingle's fingers, first of all turned topsy-turvy, and 
then, with an ingenious pertinacity deserving of a better cause, dived 
sideways in — down to the very bottom of the Kettle. And the hull of 
the Royal George has never made half the monstrous resistance to coming 
out of the water, which the lid of that Kettle employed against Mrs. 
Peerybingle, before she got it up again. 

It looked sullen and pig-headed enough, even then ; carrying its handle 
with an air of defiance, and cocking its spout pertly and mockingly at 
Mrs. Peerybingle, as if it said, " I won't boil. Nothing shall induce 
me!" 

But Mrs. Peerybingle, with restored good humour, dusted her chubby 
little hands against each other, and sat down before the Kettle : laughing. 
Meantime, the jolly blaze uprose and fell, flashing and gleaming on the 
little Haymaker at the top of the Dutch clock, until one might have 
thought he stood stock stiU before the Moorish Palace, and nothing was 
in motion but the flame. 

He was on the move, however ; and had his spasms, two to the second, 
all right and regular. But his sufferings when the clock was going to 
strike were frightful to behold ; and when a Cuckoo looked out of a 
trap-door in the Palace, and gave note six times, it shook him, each time 
like a spectral voice — or like a something wiry, plucking at his legs. 

It was not until a violent commotion and a whirring noise among the 
weights and ropes below him had quite subsided, that this terrified 
Haymaker became himself again. Nor was he startled without reason ; 
for these rattling, bony skeletons of clocks are very disconcerting in their 
operation, and I wonder very much how any set of men, but most of all 
how Dutchmen, can have had a liking to invent them. For there is a 
popular belief that Dutchmen love broad cases and much clothing for 
their own lower selves ; and they might know better than to leave their 
clocks so very lank and unprotected, surely. 

Now it was, you observe, that the Kettle began to spend the evening. 
Now it was, that the Kettle, growing mellow and musical, began to have 
irrepressible gurglings in its throat, and to indulge in short vocal snorts, 
which it checked in the bud, as if it hadn't quite made up its mind yet, 
to be good company. Now it was, that after two or three such vain 
attempts to stifle its convivial sentiments, it threw off all moroseness, all 
reserve, and burst into a stream of song so cosy and hilarious, as never 
maudlin nightingale yet formed the least idea of. 

So plain, too ! Bless you, you might have understood it like a book — 
better than some books you and I could name, perhaps. With its warm 
breath gushing forth in a light cloud which merrily and gracefully 
ascended a few feet, then hung about the chimney corner as its own 
domestic Heaven, it trolled its song with that strong energy of cheerful- 
ness, that its iron body hummed and stirred upon the fire ; and the lid 
itself, the recently rebellious lid — such is the influence of a bright example 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 121 

— ^performed a sort of jig, and clattered like a deaf and dumb young 
cymbal that had never known the use of its twin brother. 

That this song of the Kettle's was a song of invitation and welcome to 
somebody out of doors ; to somebody at that moment coming on, 
towards the snug small home and the crisp fire ; there is no doubt 
whatever, Mrs. Peerybingle knew it, perfectly, as she sat musing, before 
the hearth. It's a dark night, sang the Kettle, and the rotten leaves are 
lying by the way ; and above, all is mist and darkness, and below, all is 
mire and clay ; and there's only one relief in all the sad and murky air ; and 
I don't know that it is one, for it's nothing but a glare, of deep and 
angry crimson, where the sun and wind together, set a brand upon the 
clouds for being guilty of such weather ; and the widest open country is 
a long dull streak of black ; and there's hoar-frost on the finger-post, and 
thaw upon the track ; and the ice it isn't water, and the water isn't free ; 
and you couldn't say that anything is what it ought to be ; but he's 
coming, coming, coming ! 

And here, if you Hke, the Cricket did chime in ! with a Chirrup, 
Chirrup, Chirrup of such magnitude, by way of chorus ; with a voice, 
so astoundingly disproportionate to its size, as compared with the Kettle 
(size ! you couldn't see it !) that if it had then and there burst itself like 
an overcharged gun : if it had fallen a victim on the spot, and chirruped 
its little body into fifty pieces : it would have seemed a natural and 
inevitable consequence, for which it had expressly laboured. 

The Kettle had had the last of its solo performance. It persevered 
v^dth undiminished ardour ; but the Cricket took first fiddle and kept 
it. Good Heaven, how it chirped ! Its shrill, sharp, piercing voice 
resounded through the house, and seemed to twinkle in the outer darkness 
like a Star. There was an indescribable little trill and tremble in it, 
at its loudest, which suggested its being carried off its legs, and made to 
leap again, by its own intense enthusiasm. Yet they went very well 
together, the Cricket and the Kettle. The burden of the song was still 
the same ; and louder, louder, louder still, they sang it in their 
emulation. 

The fair little listener — for fair she was, and young : though some- 
thing of what is called the dumpling shape ; but I don't myself object 
to that — lighted a candle ; glanced at the Haymaker on the top of the 
clock, who was getting in a pretty average crop of minutes ; and looked 
out of the window, where she saw nothing, owing to the darkness, but 
her own face imaged in the glass. And my opinion is (and so would 
yours have been), that she might have looked a long way, and seen 
nothing half so agreeable. When she came back, and sat down in her 
former seat, the Cricket and the Kettle were still keeping it up, with a 
perfect fury of competition. The Kettle's weak side clearly being that 
he didn't know when he was beat. 

There was all the excitement of a race about it. Chirp, chirp, chirp ! 
Cricket a mile ahead. Hum, hum, hum — m — m ! Kettle making play 



122 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

in the distance, like a great top. Chirp, chirp, chirp ! Cricket round 
the corner. Hum, hum, hum — m — m ! Kettle sticking to him in his 
own way ; no idea of giving in. Chirp, chirp, chirp ! Cricket fresher 
than ever. Hum, hum, hum — m — m ! Kettle slow and steady. 
Chirp, chirp, chirp ! Cricket going in to finish him. Hum, hum, 
hum — m — m ! Kettle not to be finished. Until at last, they got so 
jumbled together, in the hurry-skurry, helter-skelter, of the match, 
that whether the Kettle chirped and the Cricket hummed, or the 
Cricket chirped and the Kettle hummed, or they both chirped and both 
hummed, it would have taken a clearer head than yours or mine to have 
decided with anything hke certainty. But of this, there is no doubt : 
that the Kettle and the Cricket, at one and the same moment, and by 
some power of amalgamation best known to themselves, sent, each, 
his fireside song of comfort streaming into a ray of the candle that shone 
out through the window ; and a long way down the lane. And this 
light, bursting on a certain person who, on the instant, approached 
towards it through the gloom, expressed the whole thing to him, literally 

in a twinkling, and cried " Welcome home, old fellow ! Welcome home, 

my Boy ! " 

This end attained, the Kettle, being dead beat, boiled over, and was 

taken off the fire. Mrs. Peerybingle then went running to the door, 

where, what with the wheels of a cart, the tramp of a horse, the voice 

of a man, the tearing in and out of an excited dog and the surprising 

and mysterious appearance of a Baby, there was soon the very What's-his- 

name to pay. 

Where the Baby came from, or how Mrs. Peerybingle got hold of it 

in that flash of time, / don't know. But a live Baby there was, in Mrs. 

Peerybingle's arms ; and a pretty tolerable amount of pride she seemed 

to have in it, when she was drawn gently to the fire, by a sturdy figure of a 

man, much taller and much older than herself ; who had to stoop a long 

way down, to kiss her. But she was worth the trouble. Six foot six, with 

the lumbago, might have done it. 

" Oh goodness, John ! " said Mrs. P. " What a state you're in wdth the 

weather ! " 

He was something the worse for it, undeniably. The thick mist hung 

in clots upon his eyelashes like candied thaw ; and between the fog and 

fire together, there were rainbows in his very whiskers. 

" Why, you see, Dot," John made answer, slowly, as he unrolled a 

shawl from about his throat ; and warmed his hands ; " it — it ain't 

exactly summer weather. So, no wonder." 

" I wish you wouldn't call me Dot, John. I don't like it," said Mrs. 

Peerybingle : pouting in a way that clearly showed she did like it, very 

much. 

" Why what else are you ? " returned John, looking down upon her 

with a smile, and giving her waist as light a squeeze as his huge hand and 
arm could give. " A dot and " — here he glanced at the Baby — " a dot 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 123 

and carry — I won't say it, for fear I should spoil it ; but I was very 
near a joke. I don't know as ever I was nearer." He was often near to 
something or other very clever, by his own account : this lumbering, 
slow, honest John ; this John so heavy, but so light of spirit ; so rough 
upon the surface, but so gentle at the core ; so dull without, so quick 
within ; so stohd, but so good ! Oh Mother Nature, give they children 
the true poetry of Heart that hid itself in this poor Carrier's breast — 
he was but a Carrier by the way — and we can bear to have them talking 
Prose, and leading lives of Prose ; and bear to bless Thee for their 
company ! 

It was pleasant to see Dot, with her httle figure and her Baby in her 
arms : a very doll of a Baby : glancing with a coquettish thoughtfulness 
at the fire, and inclining her dehcate little head just enough on one side to 
let it rest in an odd, half-natural, half-affected, wholly nesthng and agree- 
able manner, on the great rugged figure of the Carrier. It was pleasant 
to see him, with his tender akwardness, endeavouring to adapt his rude 
support to her slight need, and make his burly middle-age a leaning-staff 
not inappropriate to her blooming youth. It was pleasant to observe 
how Tilly Slowboy, waiting in the background for the Baby, took special 
cognisance (though in her earliest teens) of this grouping ; and stood 
with her mouth and eyes wide open, and her head thrust forward, 
taking it in as if it were air. Nor was it less agreeable to observe 
how John the Carrier, reference being made by Dot to the afore- 
said Baby, checked his hand when on the point of touching the infant, as 
if he thought he might crack it ; and bending down, surveyed it from a 
safe distance, with a kind of puzzled pride : such as an amiable mastiff 
might be supposed to show, if he found himself, one day, the father of a 
young canary. 

" Ain't he beautiful, John ? Don't he look precious in his sleep ? " 

" Very precious," said John. " Very much so. He generally is asleep, 
ain't he ? " 

" Lor, John ! Good gracious no ! " 

" Oh," said John, pondering. " I thought his eyes was generally shut. 
Halloa ! " 

" Goodness John, how you startle one ! " 

" It ain't right for him to turn 'em up in that way ! " said the astonished 
Carrier, " is it ? See how he's winking with both of 'em at once ! And 
look at his mouth ! why he's gasping hke a gold and silver fish ! " 

" You don't deserve to be a father, you don't," said Dot, with all the 
dignity of an experienced matron. " But how should you know what 
little complaints children are troubled with, John ! You wouldn't so 
much as know their names, you stupid fellow." And when she had turned 
the Baby over on her left arm, and had slapped its back as a restorative, 
she pinched her husband's ear, laughing. 

" No," said John, pulling off his outer coat. " It's very true. Dot. I 
don't know much about it. I only know that I've been fighting pretty 



124 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

stiffly with the Wind to-night. It's been blowing north-east, straight into 
the cart, the whole way home." 

" Poor old man, so it has ! " cried Mrs. Peerybingle, instantly becoming 
very active. " Here ! Take the precious darling, Tilly, while I make 
myself of some use. Bless it, I could smother it with kissing it, I could ! 
Hie then, good dog ! Hie Boxer, boy ! Only let me make the tea 
first, John ; and then I'll help you with the parcels, like a busy bee. 
* How doth the little ' — and all the rest of it, you know, John. Did you 
ever learn ' how doth the little,' when you went to school, John f " 

" Not to quite know it," John returned. " I was very near it once. 
But I should only have spoilt it, I dare say." 

" Ha ha ! " laughed Dot. She had the bhthest little laugh you ever 
heard. " What a dear old darHng of a dunce you are, John, to be 
sure ! " 

Not at all disputing this position, John went out to see that the boy 
with the lantern, which had been dancing to and fro before the door 
and window, like a Will of the Wisp, took due care of the horse ; who was 
fatter than you would quite believe, if I gave you his measure, and so 
old that his birthday was lost in the mists of antiquity. Boxer, feehng 
that his attentions were due to the family in general, and must be 
impartially distributed, dashed in and out with bewildering inconstancy ; 
now describing a circle of short barks round the horse, where he was 
being rubbed down at the stable-door ; now feigning to make savage 
rushes at his mistress, and facetiously bringing himself to sudden stops ; 
now eliciting a shriek from Tilly Slowboy, in the low nursing-chair 
near the fire, by the unexpected application of his moist nose to her 
countenance ; now exhibiting an obtrusive interest in the Baby ; now 
going round and round upon the hearth, and lying down as if he had 
established himself for the night ; now getting up again, and taking 
that nothing of a fag-end of a tail of his, out into the weather, as if he 
had just remembered an appointment, and was off, at a round trot, to 
keep it. 

" There ! There's the teapot, ready on the hob ! " said Dot ; as 
briskly busy as a child at play at keeping house. " And there's the cold 
knuckle of ham ; and there's the butter ; and there's the crusty loaf, 
and all. Here's the clothes-basket for the small parcels; John, if you've 
got any there — ^where are you, John ? Don't let the dear child fall under 
the grate, Tilly, whatever you do." 

It may be noted of Miss Slowboy, in spite of her rejecting the caution 
with some vivacity, that she had a rare and surprising talent for getting 
this Baby into difficulties : and had several times imperilled its short 
life, in a quiet way peculiarly her own. She was of a spare and straight 
shape, this young lady, insomuch that her garments appeared to be in 
constant danger of sliding off those sharp pegs, her shoulders, on which 
they were loosely hung. Her costume was remarkable for the partial 
development^ on all possible occasions, of some flannel vestment of a 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 125 

singular structure ; also for affording glimpses, in the region of the back, 
of a corset or pair of stays in colour a dead-green. Being always in a 
state of gaping admiration at everything, and absorbed besides in the 
perpetual contemplation of her mistress's perfections and the Baby's, 
Miss Slowboy, in her Httle errors of judgment, may be said to have done 
equal honour to her head and to her heart ; and though these did less 
honour to the Baby's head, which they were the occasional means of 
bringing into contact with deal doors, dressers, stair-rails, bedposts, and 
other foreign substances, still they were the honest results of Tilly 
Slowboy's constant astonishment at finding herself so kindly treated, 
and installed in such a comfortable home. For, the maternal and 
paternal Slowboy were alike unknown to Fame, and Tilly had been 
bred by public charity, a Foundhng ; which word, though only differing 
from Fondling by one vowel's length, is very different in meaning, and 
expresses quite another thing. 

To have seen little Mrs. Peerybingle come back with her husband ; 
tugging at the clothes-basket, and making the most strenuous exertions 
to do nothing at all (for he carried it) ; would have amused you, almost 
as much as it amused him. It may have entertained the Cricket too, for 
anything I know ; but certainly, it now began to chirp again, vehe- 
mently. 

" Heyday ! " said John, in his slow way. " It's merrier than ever 
to-night, I think." 

" And it's sure to bring us good fortune, John ! It always has done 
so. To have a Cricket on the Hearth, is the luckiest thing in all the 
world ! " 

John looked at her as if he had very nearly got the thought into his 
head, that she was his Cricket in chief, and he quite agreed with her. But 
it was probably one of his narrow escapes, for he said nothing. 

" The first time I heard its cheerful little note, John, was on that 
night when you brought me home — when you brought me to my new 
home here ; its little mistress. Nearly a year ago. You recollect, 
John ? " 

Oh yes. John remembered. I should think so ! 

" Its chirp was such a welcome to me ! It seemed so full of promise 
and encouragement. It seemed to say, you would be kind and gentle 
with me and would not expect (I had a fear of that, John, then) to find an 
old head on the shoulders of your foolish little wife," 

John thoughtfully patted one of the shoulders, and then the head, as 
though he would have said No, no ; he had had no such expectation ; he 
had been quite content to take them as they were. And really he had 
reason. They were very comely. 

" It spoke the truth, John, when it seemed to say so for you have 
ever been, I am sure, the best, the most considerate, the most affectionate 
of husbands to me. This has been a happy home, John; and I love the 
Cricket for its sake ! " 



126 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

" Why so do I then," said the Carrier. " So do I, Dot." 
" I love it for the many times I have heard it, and the many thoughts 
its harmless music has given me. Sometimes, in the twilight, when I 
felt a little solitary and down-hearted, John — before Baby was here to 
keep me company and make the house gay — ^when I have thought how 
lonely you would be if I should die ; how lonely I should be if I could 
know that you had lost me, dear ; its Chirp, Chirp, Chirp upon the 
hearth, has seemed to tell me of another little voice, so sweet, so very dear 
to me, before whose coming sound my trouble vanished Uke a dream. 
And when I used to fear — I did fear once, John ; I was very young you 
know — that ours might prove to be an ill-assorted marriage : I being such 
a child, and you more like my guardian than my husband : and that you 
might not, however hard you tried, be able to learn to love me, as you 
hoped and prayed you might ; its Chirp, Chirp, Chirp has cheered me 
up again, and filled me with new trust and confidence. I was thinking of 
these things, dear, when I sat expecting you ; and I love the Cricket for 
their sake ! " 

" And so do I," repeated John. " But Dot .? / hope and pray that 
I might learn to love you ? How you talk ! I had learnt that, long 
before I brought you here, to be the Cricket's httle mistress, Dot ! " 

She laid her hand, an instant, on his arm, and looked up at him with 
an agitated face, as if she would have told him something. Next moment 
she was down upon her knees before the basket ; speaking in a sprightly 
voice, and busy with the parcels. 

" There are not many of them to-night, John, but I saw some goods 
behind the cart, just now ; and though they give more trouble, perhaps, 
still they pay as well ; so we have no reason to grumble, have we f 
Besides, you have been deHvering, I dare say, as you came along ? " 
" Oh yes," John said. " A good many." 

" Why, what's this round box ? Heart alive, John, it's a wedding- 
cake ! " 

" Leave a woman alone to find out that," said John, admiringly. 
" Now a man would never have thought of it ! Whereas, it's my belief 
that if you was to pack a wedding-cake up in a tea-chest, or a turn-up 
bedstead, or a pickled salmon keg, or any unhkely thing, a woman would be 
sure to find it out directly. Yes ; I called for it at the pastrycook's." 

" And it weighs I don't know what — ^whole hundredweights ! " 
cried Dot, making a great demonstration of trying to Lift it. " Whose is 
it, John ? Where is it going ? " 

" Read the writing on the other side," said John. 
" Why, John ! My goodness, John ! '* 
" Ah ! who'd have thought it ! " John returned. 
" You never mean to say," pursued Dot, sitting on the floor and shaking 
her head at him, " that it's Gruff and Tackleton the toymaker ! " 
John nodded. 
Mrs. Peerybingle nodded also, fifty times at least. Not in assent — in 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 127 

dumb and pitying amazement ; screwing up her lips the while, with all 
their httle force (they were never made for screwing up ; I am clear of 
that), and looking the good Carrier through and through, in her abstrac- 
tion. Miss Slowboy, in the meantime, who had a mechanical power 
of reproducing scraps of current conversation for the delectation of the 
Baby, with all the sense struck out of them, and all the nouns changed into 
the plural number, inquired aloud of that young creature, Was it Gruffs 
and Tackletons the toymakers then, and Would it call at Pastrycooks for 
wedding-cakes, and Did its mothers know the boxes when its fathers 
brought them homes ; and so on. 

" And that is really to come about ! " said Dot. " Why, she and I were 
girls at school together, John." 

He might have been thinking of her : or nearly thinking of her, 
perhaps : as she was in that same school time. He looked upon her with 
a thoughtful pleasure, but he made no answer. 

" And he's as old ! As unlike her ! — Why, how many years older than 
you, is Gruff and Tackleton, John ? " 

" How many more cups of tea shall I drink to-night at one sitting, than 
Gruff and Tackleton ever took in four, I wonder ! " rephed John, good- 
humour adly, as he drew a chair to the round table, and began at the cold 
ham. " As to eating, I eat but Httle ; but that httle I enjoy. 
Dot." 

Even this ; his usual sentiment at meal times, one of his innocent 
delusions (for his appetite was always obstinate, and flatly contradicted 
him) ; awoke no smile in the face of his Httle wife, who stood among the 
parcels, pushing the cake-box slowly from her with her feet, and never 
once looked, though her eyes were cast down too, upon the dainty shoe 
she generally was so mindful of. Absorbed in thought, she stood there, 
heedless alike of the tea and John (although he caUed to her, and rapped 
the table with his knife to startle her), until he rose and touched her on 
the arm ; when she looked at him for a moment, and hurried to her place 
behind the teaboard, laughing at her negligence. But not as she had 
laughed before. The manner and the music were quite changed. 

The Cricket, too, had stopped. Somehow the room was not so cheerful 
as it had been. Nothing like it. 

" So these are all the parcels, are they, John ? " she said : breaking a 
long silence, which the honest Carrier had devoted to the practical 
iUustration of one part of his favourite sentiment — certainly enjoying what 
he ate, if it couldn't be admitted that he ate but Httle. " So these are all 
the parcels ; are they, John ? " 

" That's all," said John. " Why— no— I—" laying down his knife 
and fork, and taking a long breath. " I declare — I've clean forgotten the 
old gentleman ! " 

" The old gentleman ? " 

" In the cart," said John. " He was asleep, among the straw, the last 
time I saw him. I've very nearly remembered him, tvidce, since I came 



128 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

in ; but he went out of my head again. Holloa ! Yahip there ! Rouse 
up ! That's my hearty ! " 

John said these latter words outside the door, whither he had hurried 
with the candle in his hand. 

Miss Slowboy, conscious of some mysterious reference to The Old 
Gentleman, and connecting in her mystified imagination certain asso- 
ciations of a religious nature with the phrase, was so disturbed, that 
hastily rising from the low chair by the fire to seek protection near the 
skirts of her mistress, and coming into contact as she crossed the doorway 
with an ancient Stranger, she instinctively made a charge or butt at him 
with the only offensive instrument within her reach. 

This instrument happening to be the Baby, great commotion and alarm 
ensued, which the sagacity of Boxer rather intended to increase ; for that 
good dog, more thoughtful than its master, had, it seemed, been watching 
the old gentleman in his sleep lest he should walk off with a few young 
poplar trees that were tied up behind the cart ; and he still attended on 
him very closely ; worrying his gaiters in fact, and making dead sets at the 
buttons. 

" You're such an undeniable good sleeper, sir," said John, when 
tranquillity was restored ; in the mean time the old gentleman had stood, 
bareheaded and motionless, in the centre of the room ; " that I have 
half a mind to ask you where the other six are : only that would be a joke, 
and I know I should spoil it. Very near though," murmured the Carrier, 
with a chuckle ; " very near ! " 

The Stranger, who had long white hair ; good features, singularly 
bold and well defined for an old man ; and dark, bright, penetrating 
eyes ; looked round with a smile, and saluted the Carrier's wife by gravely 
inclining his head. 

His garb was very quaint and odd — a long, long way behind the time. 
Its hue was brown, all over. In his hand he held a great brown club or 
walking-stick ; and striking this upon the floor, it fell asunder, and became 
a chair. On which he sat down, quite composedly. 

" There ! " said the Carrier, turning to his wife. " That's the way 
I found him, sitting by the roadside ! Upright as a milestone. And 
almost as deaf." 

" Sitting in the open air, John ! " 

" In the open air," replied the Carrier, " just at dusk, ' Carriage 
Paid,' he said ; and gave me eighteenpence. Then he got in. And there 
he is." 

" He's going, John, I think ! " 
Not at all. He was only going to speak. 

" If you please, I was to be left till called for," said the Stranger, mildly. 
" Don't mind me." 

With that, he took a pair of spectacles from one of his large pockets, 
and a book from another, and leisurely began to read. Making no more 
of Boxer than if he had been a house lamb ! 







^'-s. 



Mis-, Tilly Skzvboy 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 129 

The Carrier and his wife exchanged a look of perplexity. The Stranger 
raised his head ; and glancing from the latter to the former, said : 

" Your daughter, my good friend ? " 

" Wife," returned John. 

" Niece ? " said the Stranger. 

" Wife," roared John. 

" Indeed ? " observed the Stranger. " Surely .? Very young ! " 

He quietly turned over, and resumed his reading. But, before he 
could have read two Hnes, he again interrupted himself to say : 

" Baby, yours ? " 

John gave him a gigantic nod ; equivalent to an answer in the affirm- 
ative, delivered through a speaking-trumpet. 

" Girl ? " 

" Bo-o-oy ! " roared John. 

" Also very young, eh ? " 

Mrs. Peerybingle instantly struck in. " Two months and three 
da-ays ! Vaccinated just six weeks ago-o ! Took very fine-ly ! Con- 
sidered, by the doctor, a remarkably beautiful chi-ild ! Equal to the 
general run of children at five months o-old ! Takes notice, in a way 
quite won-der-ful. May seem impossible to you, but feels his legs 
already ! " 

Here the breathless Httle mother, who had been shrieking these short 
sentences into the old man's ear, until her pretty face was crimsoned, 
held up the Baby before him as a stubborn and triumphant fact ; while. 
Tilly Slowboy, with a melodious cry of " Ketcher, Ketcher " — which 
sounded hke some unknown words, adapted to a popular Sneeze — ^per- 
formed some cow-Hke gambols round that all-unconscious Innocent. 

" Hark ! He's called for, sure enough," said John. " There's some- 
body at the door. Open it, Tilly." 

Before she could reach it, however, it was opened from without ; being 
a primitive sort of door, with a latch, that any one could hft if he chose — 
and a good many people did choose, I can tell you ; for all kinds of neigh- 
bours liked to have a cheerful word or two with the Carrier, though he 
was no great talker himself. Being opened, it gave admission to a Httle, 
meagre, thoughtful, dingy-faced man, who seemed to have made himself 
a greatcoat from the sack-cloth covering of some old box ; for when he 
turned to shut the door, and keep the weather out, he disclosed upon the 
back of that garment, the inscription G & T in large black capitals. Also 
the word GLASS in bold characters. 

" Good evening, John! " said the Httle man. " Good evening. Mum. 
Good evening, TiUy. Good evening, Unbeknown ! How's Baby, Mum ? 
Boxer's pretty well I hope ? " 

" All thriving, Caleb," repHed Dot. " I am sure you need only look 
at the dear child, for one, to know that." 

" And I'm sure I need only look at you for another," said Caleb. 

He didn't look at her though ; he had a wandering and thoughtful 

CC. B 



130 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

eye which seemed to be always projecting itself into some other time and 
place, no matter what he said ; a description which will equally apply to 
his voice. 

" Or at John for another," said Caleb. " Or at Tilly, as far as that goes. 
Or certainly at Boxer." 

" Busy just now, Caleb ? " asked the Carrier. 

" Why, pretty well, John," he returned, with the distraught air of a 
man who was casting about for the Philosopher's stone, at least. " Pretty 
much so. There's rather a run on Noah's Arks at present. I could have 
wished to improve upon the Family, but I don't see how it's to be done 
at the price. It would be a satisfaction to one's mind, to make it clearer 
which was Shems and Hams and which was Wives. FHes an't on that 
scale neither, as compared with elephants you know ! Ah ! well ! 
Have you got anything in the parcel line for me, John .? " 

The Carrier put his hand into a pocket of the coat he had taken off ; 
and brought out, carefully preserved in moss and paper, a tiny flower- 
pot. 

" There it is ! " he said, adjusting it with great care. " Not so much as 
a leaf damaged. Full of buds ! " 

Caleb's dull eye brightened, as he took it, and thanked him. 

" Dear, Caleb," said the Carrier. " Very dear at this season." 

" Never mind that. It would be cheap to me, whatever it cost," 
returned the little man. " Anything else, John .? " 

" A small box," replied the Carrier. " Here you are ! " 

" ' For Caleb Plummer,' " said the little man, spelHng out the 
direction. " ' With Cash.' With Cash, John. I don't think it's for 
me." 

" With Care," returned the Carrier, looking over his shoulder. " Where 
do you make out cash .? " 

" Oh ! To be sure ! " said Caleb. " It's all right. With care ! Yes, 
yes ; that's mine. It might have been with cash, indeed, if my dear Boy 
in the Golden South Americas had lived, John. You loved him like a 
son ; didn't you ? You needn't say you did. / know, of course. 
* Caleb Plummer. With care.' Yes, yes, it's all right. It's a box of 
dolls' eyes for my daughter's work. I wish it was her own sight in a box, 
John." 

" I wish it was, or could be ! " cried the Carrier. 

" Thank'ee," said the little man. " You speak very hearty. To think 
that she should never see the Dolls — and them a-staring at her, so bold, 
all day long ! That's where it cuts. What's the damage, John ? " 

" I'll damage you," said John, " if you inquire. Dot ! Very near ? " 

" Well ! it's like you to say so," observed the little man. " It's your 
kind way. Let me see. I think that's all." 

" I think not," said the Carrier. " Try again," 

" Something for our Governor, eh .? " said Caleb, after pondering a 
little while. " To be sure. That's what I came for ; but my head's 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 131 

so running on them Arks and things ! He hasn't been here, has 
he ? " 

" Not he," returned the Carrier. " He's too busy, courting." 
" He's coming round though," said Caleb ; " for he told me to keep 
on the near side of the road going home, and it was ten to one he'd take 
me up. I had better go, by the bye. — You couldn't have the goodness 
to let me pinch Boxer's tail, Mum, for half a moment, could you ? " 
" Why, Caleb ! what a question ! " 

" Oh never mind. Mum," said the little man. " He mightn't like it 
perhaps. There's a small order just come in, for barking dogs ; and I 
should wish to go as close to Natur' as I could, for sixpence. That's all. 
Never mind. Mum." 

It happened opportunely, that Boxer, without receiving the proposed 
stimulus, began to bark with great zeal. But as this implied the approach 
of some new visitor, Caleb, postponing his study from the life to a more 
convenient season, shouldered the round box, and took a hurried leave. 
He might have spared himself the trouble, for he met the visitor upon 
the threshold. 

" Oh ! You are here, are you .? Wait a bit. I'll take you home. 
John Peerybingle, my service to you. More of my service to your pretty 
wife. Handsomer every day ! Better too, if possible ! And younger," 
mused the speaker, in a low voice ; " that's the Devil of it ! " 

'• I should be astonished at your paying compliments, Mr. Tackleton," 
said Dot, not with the best grace in the world ; " but for your condition." 
" You know all about it then ? " 
" I have got myself to believe it, somehow," said Dot. 
" After a hard struggle, I suppose ? " 
" Very." 

Tackleton the Toy-merchant, pretty generally known as Gruff and 
Tackleton — for that was the firm, though Gruff had been bought out 
long ago ; only leaving his name, and as some said his nature, according 
to its Dictionary meaning, in the business — Tackleton the Toy-merchant, 
was a man whose vocation had been quite misunderstood by his Parents 
and Guardians. If they had made him a Money Lender, or a sharp 
Attorney, or a Sheriff's Officer, or a Broker, he might have sown his 
discontented oats in his youth, and, after having had the full run of 
himself in ill-natured transactions, might have turned out amiable, at 
last, for the sake of a little freshness and novelty. But, cramped and 
chafing in the peaceable pursuit of toy-making, he was a domestic Ogre, 
who had been living on children all his life, and was their implacable 
enemy. He despised all toys ; wouldn't have bought one for the world ; 
delighted, in his mahce, to insinuate grim expressions into the faces of 
brown-paper farmers who drove pigs to market, bellmen who advertised 
lost lawyers' consciences, movable old ladies who darned stockings or 
carved pies ; and other like samples of his stock in trade. In appalling 
masks ; hideous, hairy, red eyed Jacks in Boxes ; Vampire Kites ; 



132 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

demoniacal Tumblers who wouldn't lie down, and were perpetually 
fl)dng forward, to stare infants out of countenance ; his soul perfectly 
revelled. They were his only relief, and safety-valve. He was great in 
such inventions. Anything suggestive of a Pony-nightmare, was 
delicious to him. He had even lost money (and he took to that toy very 
kindly) by getting up Goblin slides for magic-lanterns, whereon the 
Powers of Darkness were depicted as a sort of supernatural shell-fish, with 
human faces. In intensifying the portraiture of Giants, he had sunk 
quite a Httle capital ; and, though no painter himself, he could indicate, 
for the instruction of his artists, with a piece of chalk, a certain furtive 
leer for the countenances of those monsters, which was safe to destroy the 
peace of mind of any young gentleman between the ages of six and eleven, 
for the whole Christmas or Midsummer Vacation. 

What he was in toys, he was (as most men are) in all other things. You 
ma/ easily suppose, therefore, that within the green cape, which reached 
down to the calves of his legs, there was buttoned up to the chin an un- 
commonly pleasant fellow ; and that he was about as choice a spirit, and 
as agreeable a companion as ever stood in a pair of bull-headed looking 
boots with mahogany-coloured tops. 

Still, Tackleton, the Toy-merchant, was going to be married. In spite 
of all this, he was going to be married. And to a young wife too ; a 
beautiful young wife. 

He didn't look much like a bridegroom, as he stood in the Carrier's 
kitchen, with a twist in his dry face, and a screw in his body, and his hat 
jerked over the bridge of his nose, and his hands tucked down into the 
bottoms of his pockets, and his whole sarcastic ill-conditioned self peering 
out of one little corner of one little eye, like the concentrated essence of 
any number of ravens. But, a Bridegroom he designed to be. 

" In three days' time. Next Thursday. The last day of the first 
month in the year. That's my wedding-day," said Tackleton. 

Did I mention that he had always one eye wide open, and one eye 
nearly shut ; and that the one eye nearly shut, was always the expressive 
eye .? I don't think I did, 

" That's my wedding-day ! " said Tackleton, ratthng his money. 

" Why, it's our wedding-day too," exclaimed the Carrier. 

" Ha, ha ! " laughed Tackleton. " Odd ! You're just such another 
couple. Just ! " 

The indignation of Dot at this presumptuous assertion is not to be 
described. What next ? His imagination would compass the possibility 
of just such another Baby perhaps. The man was mad. 

" I say : A word with you," murmured Tackleton, nudging the 
Carrier with his elbow, and taking him a little apart. " You'll come to 
the wedding .? We're in the same boat you know." 

" How in the same boat ? " inquired the Carrier. 

" A little disparity, you know ; " said Tackleton, with another nudge. 
*' Come and spend an evening with us, beforehand." 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 133 

" Why ? " demanded John astonished at this pressing hospitahty. 
" Why ? " returned the other. " That's a new way of receiving an 
invitation. Why, for pleasure ; sociabiHty, you know, and all that ! " 
" I thought you were never sociable," said John, in his plain way. 
" Tchah ! It's of no use to be anything but free with you I see," said 
Tackleton. " Why, then, the truth is you have a — what tea-drinking 
people call a sort of a comfortable appearance together : you and your 
wife. Wp know better, you know, but " 

" No, we don't know better," interposed John. " What are you 
talking about ? " 

" Well ! We donH know better, then," said Tackleton. " We'll agree 
that we don't. As you like ; what dees it matter ? I was going to say, 
as you have that sort of appearance, your company will produce a favour- 
able effect on Mrs. Tackleton that will be. And, though I don't think 
your good lady's very friendly to me, in this matter, still she can't help 
herself from falling into my views, for there's a compactness and cosiness 
of appearance about her that always tells, even in an indifferent case. 
You'll say you'll come ? " 

" We have arranged to keep our Wedding-Day (as far as that goes) at 
home," said John. " We have made the promise to ourselves these six 
months. We think, you see, that home " 

" Bah ! what's home ? " cried Tackleton. " Four walls and a ceiling 
(why don't you kill that Cricket ; / would ! I always do. I hate their 
noise). There are four walls and a ceiling at my house. Come to me ! " 

" You kill your Crickets, eh ? " said John. 

" Scrunch 'em, sir," returned the other, setting his heel heavily on the 
floor, " You'll say you'll come ? It's as much your interest as mine, 
you know, that the women should persuade each other that they're quiet 
and contented, and couldn't be better off. I know their way. Whatever 
one woman says, another woman is determined to clinch, always. There's 
that spirit of emulation among 'em, sir, that if your wife says to my wife, 
' I'm the happiest woman in the world, and mine's the best husband in 
the world, and I dote on him,' my wife will say the same to yours, or 
more, and half believe it." 

" Do you mean to say she don't then ? " asked the Carrier. 

" Don't ! " cried Tackleton, with a short, sharp laugh. " Don't 
what ? " 

The Carrier had had some faint idea of adding, " dote upon you." 
But happening to meet the half-closed eye, as it twinkled upon him over 
the turned-up collar of the cape, which was within an ace of poking it out, 
he felt it such an unhkely part and parcel of anything to be doted on, that 
he substituted, " that she don't beheve it ? " 

" Ah you dog ! You're joking," said Tackleton. 

But the Carrier, though slow to understand the full drift of his meaning, 
eyed him in such a serious manner, that he was obliged to be a little more 
explanatory. 



134 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

" I have the humour," said Tackleton : holding up the fingers o£ his 
left hand and tapping the forefinger, to imply " there I am, Tackleton to 
wit " : " I have the humour, sir, to marry a young wife and a pretty 
wife : " here he rapped his httle finger to express the Bride ; not 
sparingly, but sharply ; with a sense of power. " I'm able to gratify 
that humour and I do. It's my whim. But — now look there." 

He pointed to where Dot was sitting, thoughtfully, before the fire ; 
leaning her dimpled chin upon her hand, and watching the bright blaze. 
The Carrier looked at her, and then at him, and then at her, and then at 
him again. 

" She honours and obeys, no doubt, you know," said Tackleton ; 
" and that, as I am not a man of sentiment, is quite enough for me. But 
do you think there's anything more in it? " 

" I think," observed the Carrier, " that I should chuck any m^an out of 
window, who said there wasn't." 

" Exactly so," returned the other with an unusual alacrity of assent. 
" To be sure ! Doubtless you would. Of course. I'm certain of it. 
Good night. Pleasant dreams ! " 

The good Carrier was puzzled, and made uncomfortable and uncertain, 
in spite of himself. He couldn't help showing it, in his manner. 

" Good night, my dear friend ! " said Tackleton, compassionately. 
" I'm off. We're exactly alike, in reality, I see. You won't give us 
to-morrow evening ? Well I Next day you go out visiting, I know. 
I'll meet you there, and bring my wife that is to be. It'll do her good. 
You're agreeable .? Thank'ee. What's that ! " 

It was a loud cry from the Carrier's wife ; a loud, sharp, sudden cry, 
that made the room ring, like a glass vessel. She had risen from her seat, 
and stood like one transfixed by terror and surprise. The Stranger had 
advanced towards the fire to warm himself, and stood within a short 
stride of her chair. But quite still. 

" Dot ! " cried the Carrier. " Mary ! DarHng ! What's the 
matter } " 

They were all about her in a moment. Caleb, who had been dozing 
on the cake-box, in the first imperfect recovery of his suspended presence 
of mind seized Miss Slowboy by the hair of her head, but immediately 
apologised. 

" Mary ! " exclaimed the Carrier, supporting her in his arms. " Are 
you ill ! What is it ? Tell me, dear ! " 

She only answered by beating her hands together, and faUing into a 
wild fit of laughter. Then, sinking from his grasp upon the ground, she 
covered her face with her apron, and wept bitterly. And then she 
laughed again, and then she cried again ; and then, she said how cold it 
was, and suffered him to lead her to the fire, where she sat down as before. 
The old man standing, as before ; quite still. 

" I'm better, John," she said. " I'm quite well now — I " 

" John ! " But John was on the other side of her. Why turn her face 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 135 

towards the strange old gentleman, as if addressing him ! Was her brain 
wandering ? 

"Only a fancy, John dear — a kind of shock — a something coming 
suddenly before my eyes — I don't know what it was. It's quite gone ; 
quite gone." 

" I'm glad it's gone," muttered Tackleton, turning the expressive eye 
all round the room. " I wonder where it's gone, and what it was. 
Humph ! Caleb, come here ! Who's that with the grey hair ? " 

" I don't know, sir," returned Caleb in a whisper. " Never see him 
before, in all my life. A beautiful figure for a nut-cracker ; quite a new 
model. With a screw- jaw opening down into his waistcoat, he'd be 
lovely." 

" Not ugly enough," said Tackleton. 

" Or for a firebox, either," observed Caleb, in deep contemplation, 
" what a model ! Unscrew his head to put the matches in ; turn him 
heels up'ards for the light ; and what a firebox for a gentleman's mantel- 
shelf, just as he stands ! " 

" Not half ugly enough," said Tackleton. " Nothing in him at all. 
Come ! Bring that box ! All right now, I hope ? " 

" Oh quite gone ! Quite gone ! " said the little woman, waving him 
hurriedly away. " Good night ! " 

" Good night," said Tackleton, " Good night, John Peerybingle ! 
Take care how you carry that box, Caleb. Let it fall, and I'll murder 
you ! Dark as pitch, and weather worse than ever, eh ? Good night ! " 

So, with another sharp look round the room, he went out at the door ; 
followed by Caleb with the wedding-cake on his head. 

The Carrier had been so much astounded by his httle v^dfe, and so 
busily engaged in soothing and tending her, that he had scarcely been 
conscious of the Stranger's presence, until now, when he again stood 
there, their only guest. 

" He don't belong to them, you see," said John. " I must give him a 
hint to go." 

" I beg your pardon, friend," said the old gentleman, advancing to 
him ; " the more so, as I fear your wife has not been well ; but the 
attendant whom my infirmity," he touched his ears and shook his head, 
" renders almost indispensable, not having arrived, I fear there must be 
some mistake. The bad night which made the shelter of your comfort- 
able cart (may I never have a worse !) so acceptable, is still as bad as ever. 
Would you in your kindness, suflfer me to rent a bed here .? " 

"Yes, yes," cried Dot. " Yes ! Certainly ! " 

" Oh ! " said the Carrier, surprised by the rapidity of this consent. 
" Well ! I don't object ; but still I'm not quite sure that " 

" Hush ! " she interrupted. " Dear John ! " 

" Why, he's stone deaf," urged John. 

" I know he is, but — Yes, sir, certainly. Yes ! certainly ! I'll make 
him up a bed, directly, John." 



136 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

As she hurried off to do it, the flutter of her spirits, and the agitation of 
her manner, were so strange, that the Carrier stood looking after her, 
quite confounded. 

" Did its mothers make it up a Beds then ! " cried Miss Slowboy to the 
Baby ; " and did its hair grow brown and curly, when its caps was lifted 
off, and frighten it, a precious Pets, a sitting by the fires ! " 

With that unaccountable attraction of the mind to trifles, which is 
often incidental to a state of doubt and confusion, the Carrier, as he 
walked slowly to and fro, found himself mentally repeating even these 
absurd words, many times. So many times that he got them by heart, 
and was still conning them over and over, like a lesson, when Tilly, after 
administering as much friction to the little bald head with her hand as she 
thought wholesome (according to the practice of nurses), had once more 
tied the Baby's cap on. 

" And frighten it a precious Pets, a sitting by the fire. What frightened 
Dot, I wonder ! " mused the Carrier, pacing to and fro. 

He scouted, from his heart, the insinuations of the Toy-merchant, and 
yet they filled him with a vague, indefinite uneasiness ; for Tackleton was 
quick and sly ; and he had that painful sense, himself, of being a man of 
slow perception, that a broken hint was always worrying to him. He 
certainly had no intention in his mind of linking anything that Tackleton 
had said, with the unusual conduct of his wife ; but the two subjects of 
reflection came into his mind together, and he could not keep them 
asunder. 

The bed was soon made ready ; and the visitor, declining all refresh- 
ment but a cup of tea, retired. Then Dot : quite well again, she said : 
quite well again : arranged the great chair in the chimney-corner for her 
husband ; filled his pipe and gave it him ; and took her usual little stool 
beside him on the hearth. 

She always would sit on that little stool ; I think she must have had a 
kind of notion that it was a coaxing, wheedhng, little stool. 

She was, out and out, the very best filler of a pipe, I should say, in the 
four quarters of the globe. To see her put that chubby little finger in 
the bowl, and then blow down the pipe to clear the tube ; and, when she 
had done so, affect to think that there was really something in the tube, 
and blow a dozen times, and hold it to her eye like a telescope, with a 
most provoking twist in her capital little face, as she looked down it ; was 
quite a brilliant thing. As to the tobacco, she was perfect mistress of the 
subject ; and her Hghting of the pipe, with a wisp of paper, when the 
Carrier had it in his mouth — agoing so very near his nose, and yet not 
scorching it — was Art : high Art, sir. 

And the Cricket and the Kettle, turning up again, acknowledged it ! 
The bright fire, blazing up again, acknowledged it ! The little Mower 
on the clock, in his unheeded work, acknowledged it ! The Carrier, in 
his smoothing forehead and expanding face, acknowledged it, the readiest 
of aU. 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 137 

And as he soberly and thoughtfully puffed at his old pipe ; and as the 
Dutch clock ticked ; and as the red fire gleamed ; and as the Cricket 
chirped ; that Genius of his Hearth and Home (for such the Cricket was) 
came out, in fairy shape, into the room, and summoned many forms of 
Home about him. Dots of all ages, and all sizes, filled the chamber. 
Dots who were merry children, running on before him, gathering 
flowers, in the fields ; coy Dots, half shrinking from, half yielding to, the 
pleading of his own rough image ; newly-married Dots, alighting at the 
door, and taking wondering possession of the household keys ; motherly 
little Dots, attended by fictitious Slowboys, bearing babies to be 
christened ; matronly Dots, still young and blooming, watching Dots of 
daughters, as they danced at rustic balls ; fat Dots, encircled and beset 
by troops of rosy grand-children ; withered Dots, who leaned on sticks, 
and tottered as they crept along. Old Carriers, too, appeared, with blind 
old Boxers lying at their feet ; and newer carts with younger drivers 
(" Peerybingle Brothers " on the tilt) ; and sick old Carriers, tended by 
the gentlest hands ; and graves of dead and gone old Carriers, green in 
the churchyard. And as the Cricket showed him all these things — he 
saw them plainly, though his eyes were fixed upon the fire — the Carrier's 
heart grew light and happy, and he thanked his Household Gods with all 
his might, and cared no more for Gruff and Tackleton than you do. 

But what was that young figure of a man, which the same Fair Cricket 
set so near Her stool, and which remained there, singly and alone ? Why 
did it hnger still, so near her, with its arm upon the chimney-piece, ever 
repeating " Married ! and not to me ! " 

Oh Dot ! Oh failing Dot ! There is no place for it in all your 
husband's visions ; why has its shadow fallen on his hearth ! 



CHIRP THE SECOND 

Caleb Plummer and his Blind Daughter lived all alone by themselves, as 
the Story-books say — and my blessing, with yours to back it I hope, on 
the Story-books, for saying anything in this workaday world ! — Caleb 
Plummer and his BKnd Daughter hved all alone by themselves, in a little 
cracked nutshell of a wooden house, which was, in truth, no better than 
a pimple on the prominent red-brick nose of Gruff and Tackleton. The 
premises of Gruff and Tackleton were the great feature of the street ; 
but you might have knocked down Caleb Plummer's dwelHng with a 
hammer or two, and carried off the pieces in a cart. 

If any one had done the dwelling-house of Caleb Plummer the honour 
to miss it after such an inroad, it would have been, no doubt, to commend 
its demoHtion as a vast improvement. It stuck to the premises of Gruff 
and Tackleton, like a barnacle to a ship's keel, or a snail to a door, or a 
little bunch of toadstools to the stem of a tree. But it was the germ from 
which the full-grown trunk of GruflP and Tackleton had sprung ; and 

cc. e' 



138 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

under its crazy roof, the Gruff before last had, in a small way, made 
toys for a generation of old boys and girls, who had played with them, 
and found them out, and broken them, and gone to sleep. 

I have said that Caleb and his poor Bhnd Daughter hved here ; I 
should have said that Caleb lived here, and his poor Blind Daughter 
somewhere else ; in an enchanted home of Caleb's furnishing, where 
scarcity and shabbiness were not, and trouble never entered. Caleb was 
no sorcerer, but in the only magic art that still remains to us : the magic 
of devoted, deathless love : Nature had been the mistress of his study ; 
and from her teaching, all the wonder came. 

The Blind Girl never knew that ceilings were discoloured ; walls 
blotched and bare of plaster here and there ; high crevices unstopped 
and widening every day ; beams mouldering and tending downward. 
The Bhnd Girl never knew that iron was rusting, wood rotting, paper 
peeling off ; the very size, and shape, and true proportion of the dwelling, 
withering away. The Blind Girl never knew that ugly shapes of delf and 
earthenware were on the board ; that sorrow and faintheartedness were 
in the house ; that Caleb's scanty hairs were turning greyer and more 
grey, before her sightless face. The Bhnd Girl never knew they had a 
master, cold, exacting, and uninterested : never knew that Tackleton 
was Tackleton in short ; but lived in the behef of an eccentric humourist 
who loved to have his jest with them ; and who while he was the 
Guardian Angel of their lives, disdained to hear one word of thankfulness. 
And all was Caleb's doing ; all the doing of her simple father ! But 
he too had a Cricket on his Hearth ; and listening sadly to its music 
when the motherless Blind Child was very young, that Spirit had inspired 
him with the thought that even her great deprivation might be almost 
changed into a blessing, and the girl made happy by these little means. 
For all the Cricket Tribe are potent Spirits, even though the people who 
hold converse with them do not know it (which is frequently the case), 
and there are not in the Unseen World, Voices more gentle and more 
true ; that may be so imphcitly rehed on, or that are so certain to give 
none but tenderest counsel ; as the Voices in which the Spirits of the 
Fireside and the Hearth address themselves to human kind. 

Caleb and his daughter were at work together in their usual working- 
room, which served them for their ordinary hving-room as well ; and a 
strange place it was. There were houses in it, finished and unfinished, 
for Dolls of all stations in life. Suburban tenements for Dolls of moderate 
means ; kitchens and single apartments for Dolls of the lower classes ; 
capital town residences for Dolls of high estate. Some of these establish- 
ments were already furnished according to estimate, with a view to the 
convenience of Dolls of limited income ; others could be fitted on the 
most expensive scale, at a moment's notice, from whole shelves of chairs 
and tables, sofas, bedsteads, and upholstery. The nobility and gentry 
and public in general, for whose accommodation these tenements were 
designed, lay, here and there, in baskets, staring straight up at the 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 139 

ceiling ; but in denoting their degrees in society, and confining them to 
their respective stations (which experience shows to be lamentably- 
difficult in real life), the makers of these Dolls had far improved on 
Nature, who is often froward and perverse ; for they, not resting on such 
arbitrary marks as satin, cotton-print, and bits of rag, had super-added 
striking personal differences which allowed of no mistake. Thus, the 
Doll-lady of Distinction had wax limbs of perfect symmetry ; but only 
she and her compeers ; the next grade in the social scale being made of 
leather ; and the next of coarse linen stuff. As to the common-people, 
they had just so many matches out of tinder-boxes for their arms and 
leo-s, and there they were — established in their sphere at once, beyond 
the possibility of getting out of it. 

There were various other samples of his handicraft, besides Dolls, in 
Caleb Plummer's room. There were Noah's Arks, in which the Birds 
and Beasts were an uncommonly tight fit, I assure you ; though they 
could be crammed in, anyhow, at the roof, and rattled and shaken into 
the smallest compass. By a bold poetical license, most of these Noah's 
Arks had knockers on the doors ; inconsistent appendages perhaps, as 
suggestive of morning callers and a Postman, yet a pleasant finish to the 
outside of the building. There were scores of melancholy little carts 
which, when the wheels went round, performed most doleful music. 
Many small fiddles, drums, and other instruments of torture ; no end of 
cannon, shields, swords, spears, and guns. There were little tumblers in 
red breeches, incessantly swarming up high obstacles of red-tape, and 
coming down, head first, on the other side ; and there were innumerable 
old gentlemen of respectable, not to say venerable appearance, insanely 
flying over horizontal pegs, inserted, for the purpose, in their own street 
doors. There were beasts of all sorts ; horses, in particular, of every 
breed, from the spotted barrel on four pegs, with a small tippet for a 
mane, to the thoroughbred rocker on his highest mettle. As it would 
have been hard to count the dozens upon dozens of grotesque figures that 
were ever ready to commit all sorts of absurdities on the turning of a 
handle ; so it would have been no easy task to mention any human folly, 
vice, or weakness, that had not its type, immediate or remote, in Caleb 
Plummer's room. And not in an exaggerated form ; for very little 
handles will move men and women to as strange performances, as any 
Toy was ever made to undertake. 

In the midst of all these objects, Caleb and his daughter sat at work. 
The Blind Girl busy as a Doll's dressmaker ; Caleb painting and glazing 
the four pair front of a desirable family mansion. 

The care imprinted in the lines of Caleb's face, and his absorbed and 
dreamy manner, which would have sat well on some alchemist or 
abstruse student, were at first sight an odd contrast to his occupation, 
and the trivialities about him. But trivial things, invented and pursued 
for bread, become very serious matters of fact ; and, apart from this 
consideration, I am not at all prepared to say, myself, that if Caleb had 



140 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

been a Lord Chamberlain, or a Member of Parliament, or a lawj^er, or 
even a great speculator, he would have dealt in toys one whit less 
whimsical ; while I have a very great doubt whether they would have 
been as harmless. 

" So you were out in the rain last night, father, in your beautiful, new, 
great-coat," said Caleb's daughter. 

" In my beautiful new great-coat," answered Caleb, glancing towards 
a clothes-line in the room, on which the sack-cloth garment previously 
described, was carefully hung up to dry. 

" How glad I am you bought it, father ! " 

" And of such a tailor, too," said Caleb. " Quite a fashionable tailor. 
It's too good for me." 

The Blind Girl rested from her work, and laughed with delight. 
*' Too good, father ! What can be too good for you ? " 

" I'm half ashamed to wear it though," said Caleb, watching the effect 
of what he said, upon her brightening face ; " upon my word. When I 
hear the boys and people say behind me, ' Halloa ! Here's a swell ! ' I 
don't know which way to look. And when the beggar wouldn't go away 
last night ; and, when I said I was a very common man, said ' No, your 
Honour ! Bless your Honour, don't say that ! ' I was quite ashamed. I 
really felt as if I hadn't a right to wear it." 

Happy Blind Girl ! How merry she was, in her exultation ! 

" I see you, father," she said, clasping her hands, " as plainly, as if I had 
the eyes I never want when you are with me. A blue coat " 

" Bright blue," said Caleb. 

" Yes, yes ! Bright blue ! " exclaimed the girl, turning up her radiant 
face ; " the colour I can just remember in the blessed sky : You told 
me it was blue before ! A bright blue coat " 

" Made loose to the figure," suggested Caleb. 

" Yes ! Loose to the figure ! " cried the Blind Girl, laughing heartily ; 
" and in it you, dear father, with your merry eye, your smiling face, your 
free step, and your dark hair : looking so young and handsome ! " 

" Halloa ! Halloa ! " said Caleb. " I shall be vain, presently." 

" I think you are, already," cried the Blind Girl, pointing at him, in 
her glee. " I know you, father ! Ha ha ha ! I've found you out, you 
see ! " 

How different the picture in her mind, from Caleb, as he sat observing 
her ! She had spoken of his free step. She was right in that. For years 
and years, he never once had crossed that threshold at his own slow pace, 
but with a footfall counterfeited for her ear ; and never had he, when his 
heart was heaviest, forgotten the light tread that was to render her so 
cheerful and courageous ! 

Heaven knows ! But I think Caleb's vague bewilderment of manner 
may have half originated in his having confused himself about himself 
and everything around him, for the love of his Blind Daughter. How 
could the little man be otherwise than bewildered, after labouring for so 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 141 

many years to destroy his own identity, and that of all the objects that 
had any bearing on it ! 

" There we are," said Caleb, falling back a pace or two to form the 
better judgment of his work ; " as near the real thing as six-penn'orth of 
halfpence is to sixpence. What a pity that the whole front of the house 
opens at once ! If there was only a staircase in it now, and regular doors 
to the rooms to go in at ! But that's the worst of my calling, I'm always 
deluding myself, and swindling myself." 

" You are speaking quite softly. You are not tired, father ? " 

" Tired," echoed Caleb, with a great burst of animation, " what should 
tire me. Bertha ? / was never tired. What does it mean ? " 

To give. the greater force to his words, he checked himself in an 
involuntary imitation of two half-length stretching and yawning figures 
on the mantel-shelf, who were represented as in one eternal state of 
weariness from the waist upwards ; and hummed a fragment of a song. 
It was a Bacchanalian song, something about a Sparkling Bowl ; and he 
sang it with an assumption of a Devil-may-care voice, that made his face 
a thousand times more meagre and more thoughtful than ever. 

" What ! You're singing, are you ? " said Tackleton, putting his head 
in, at the door. " Go it ! / can't sing." 

Nobody would have suspected him of it. He hadn't what is generally 
termed a singing face, by any means. 

" I can't afford to sing," said Tackleton. " I'm glad you can. I hope 
you can afford to work too. Hardly time for both, I should think f " 

" If you could only see him. Bertha, how he's winking at me ! " 
whispered Caleb. " Such a man to joke ! you'd think, if you didn't 
know him, he was in earnest — wouldn't you now f " 

The Blind Girl smiled, and nodded. 

" The bird that can sing and won't sing, must be made to sing, they 
say," grumbled Tackleton. " What about the owl that can't sing, and 
oughtn't to sing, and will sing ; is there anything that he should be made 
to do ? " 

" The extent to which he's winking at this moment ! " whispered 
Caleb to his daughter. " Oh my gracious ! " 

" Always merry and light-hearted with us ! " cried the smiling Bertha. 

" Oh, you're there, are you ? " answered Tackleton. " Poor Idiot ! " 

He really did believe she was an Idiot ; and he founded the belief, I 
can't say whether consciously or not, upon her being fond of him. 

" Well : and being there, — how are you .? " said Tackleton in his 
grudging way. 

" Oh ! well ; quite well. And as happy as even you can wish me to 
be. As happy as you would make the whole world, if you could ! " 

" Poor Idiot ! " muttered Tackleton. " No gleam of reason. Not 
a gleam ! " 

The Blind Girl took his hand and kissed it ; held it for a moment in 
her own two hands ; and laid her cheek against it tenderly, before 



142 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

releasing it. There was such unspeakable affection and such fervent 
gratitude in the act, that Tackleton himself was moved to say, in a milder 
growl than usual : 

" What's the matter now ? " 

" I stood it close beside my pillow when I went to sleep last night, and 
remembered it in my dreams. And when the day broke, and the glorious 
red sun — the red sun, father ? " 

" Red in the mornings and the evenings. Bertha," said poor Caleb, 
with a woeful glance at his employer. 

" When it rose, and the bright light I almost fear to strike myself 
against in walking, came into the room, I turned the little tree towards 
it, and blessed Heaven for making things so precious, and blessed you for 
sending them to cheer me ! " 

" Bedlam broke loose : " said Tackleton under his breath. " We shall 
arrive at the strait-waistcoat and mufflers soon. We're getting on ! " 

Caleb, with his hands hooked loosely in each other, stared vacantly 
before him while his daughter spoke, as if he really were uncertain (I 
believe he was) whether Tackleton had done anything to deserve her 
thanks, or not. If he could have been a perfectly free agent, at' that 
moment, required, on pain of death, to kick the Toy merchant, or fall at 
his feet, according to his merits, I believe it would have been an even 
chance which course he would have taken. Yet Caleb knew that with 
his own hands he had brought the little rose-tree home for her, so care- 
fully ; and that with his own lips he had forged the innocent deception 
which should help to keep her from suspecting how much, how very 
much, he every day denied himself, that she might be the happier. 

" Bertha ! " said Tackleton, assuming, for the nonce, a little cordiality. 
" Come here." 

" Oh ! I can come straight to you : You needn't guide me ! " she 
rejoined. 

" Shall I tell you a secret. Bertha ? " 
"If you will ! " she answered, eagerly. 

How bright the darkened face ! How adorned with light, the 
listening head ! 

" This is the day on which little what's-her-name, the spoilt child ; 
Peerybingle's wife ; pays her regular visit to you — makes her fantastic 
Pic-Nic here ; an't it ? " said Tackleton, with a strong expression of 
distaste for the whole concern. 

" Yes," replied Bertha. " This is the day." 

" I thought so ! " said Tackleton. " I should like to join the party." 
" Do you hear that, father ! " cried the Blind Girl in an ecstasy. 
" Yes, yes, I hear it," murmured Caleb, with the fixed look of a sleep- 
walker ; " but I don't believe it. It's one of my lies, I've no doubt." 

'' You see I — I want to bring the Peerybingles a little more into 
company with May Fielding," said Tackleton. " I am going to be 
married to May." 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 143 

" Married ! " cried the Blind Girl, starting from him. 

" She's such a con-founded Idiot," muttered Tackleton, " that I was 
afraid she'd never comprehend me. Ah, Bertha ! Married ! Church, 
parson, clerk, beadle, glass-coach, bells, breakfast, bride-cake, favours, 
marrow-bones, cleavers, and all the rest of the tomfoolery, A wedding, 
you know ; a wedding. Don't you know what a wedding is ? " 

" I know," replied the Blind Girl, in a gentle tone. " I understand ! " 

" Do you ? " muttered Tackleton. " It's more than I expected. 
Well ! On that account I want to join the party, and to bring May and 
her mother. I'll send in a little something or other, before the afternoon. 
A cold leg of mutton, or some comfortable trifle of that sort. You'll 
expect me ? " 

" Yes," she answered. 

She had drooped her head, and turned away ; and so stood, with her 
hands crossed, musing. 

" I don't think you will," muttered Tackleton, looking at her ; " for 
you seem to have forgotten all about it, already. Caleb ! " 

" I may venture to say I'm here, I suppose," thought Caleb. " Sir ! " 

" Take care she don't forget what I've been saying to her." 

*' She never forgets," returned Caleb. " It's one of the few things 
she an't clever in." 

" Every man thinks his own geese swans," observed the Toy-merchant, 
with a shrug. " Poor devil ! " 

Having delivered himself of which remark, with infinite contempt, old 
Gruff and Tackleton withdrew. 

Bertha remained where he had left her, lost in meditation. The gaiety 
had vanished from her downcast face, and it was very sad. Three or four 
times, she shook her head, as if bewailing some remembrance or some 
loss ; but her sorrowful reflections found no vent in words. 

It was not until Caleb had been occupied, some time, in yoking a team 
of horses to a waggon by the summary process of nailing the harness to 
the vital parts of their bodies, that she drew near to his working-stool, 
and sitting down beside him, said : 

" Father, I am lonely in the dark. I want my eyes : my patient 
wilHng eyes." 

" Here they are," said Caleb. " Always ready. They are more yours 
than mine. Bertha, any hour in the four and twenty. What shall your 
eyes do for you, dear ? " 

" Look round the room, father." 

" All right," said Caleb. " No sooner said than done. Bertha." 

" Tell me about it." 

" It's much the same as usual," said Caleb. " Homely, but very snug. 
The gay colours on the walls ; the bright flowers on the plates and 
dishes ; the shining wood, where there are beams or panels ; the general 
cheerfulness and neatness of the building ; make it very pretty." 

Cheerful and neat it was wherever Bertha's hands could busy them- 



144 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

selves. But nowhere else were cheerfulness and neatness possible, in the 
old crazy shed which Caleb's fancy so transformed. 

" You have your working dress on, and are not so gallant as when you 
wear the handsome coat ? " said Bertha, touching him. 

" Not quite so gallant," answered Caleb. " Pretty brisk though." 

" Father," said the Blind Girl, drawing close to his side, and steaHng 
one arm round his neck. " Tell me something about May. She is very 
fair ? " 

" She is indeed," said Caleb. And she was indeed. It was quite a 
rare thing to Caleb, not to have to draw on his invention. 

" Her hair is dark," said Bertha, pensively, " darker than mine. Her 
voice is sweet and musical, I know. I have often loved to hear it. Her 
shape " 

" There's not a Doll's in all the room to equal it," said Caleb. " And 
her eyes ! " 

He stopped ; for Bertha had drawn closer round his neck ; and, from 
the arm that clung about him, came a warning pressure which he 
understood too well. 

He coughed a moment, hammered for a moment, and then fell back 
upon the song about the Sparkling Bowl ; his infallible resource in all 
such diiSculties. 

" Our friend, father ; our benefactor. I am never tired you know of 
hearing about him. — Now was I, ever ? " she said hastily. 

" Of course not," answered Caleb. " And with reason." 

" Ah ! With how much reason ! " cried the BHnd Girl. With such 
fervency, that Caleb, though his motives were so pure, could not endure 
to meet her face ; but dropped his eyes, as if she could have read in them 
his innocent deceit. 

" Then tell me again about him, dear father," said Bertha. " Many 
times again ! His face is benevolent, kind, and tender. Honest and 
true, I am sure it is. The manly heart that tries to cloak all favours with 
a show of roughness and unwillingness, beats in its every look and glance." 

" And makes it noble," added Caleb in his quiet desperation. 

" And makes it noble ! " cried the BHnd Girl. "He is older than 
May, father." 

" Ye-es," said Caleb, reluctantly. " He's a little older than May. 
But that don't signify." 

" Oh father, yes ! To be his patient companion in infirmity and age, 
to be his gentle nurse in sickness, and his constant friend in suffering and 
sorrow ; to know no weariness in working for his sake ; to watch him, 
tend him ; sit beside his bed and talk to him, awake ; and pray for him 
asleep ; what privileges these would be ! What opportunities for 
proving all her truth and her devotion to him ! Would she do all this, 
dear father ? " 

" No doubt of it," said Caleb. 

" I love her, father ; I can love her from my soul ! " exclaimed the 



CALEB PLUMMER AND HIS BLIND DAUGHTER 

From the original drawing by 
FRED BARNARD 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 145 

Blind Girl. And saying so, she laid her poor bHnd face on Caleb's 
shoulder, and so wept and wept, that he was almost sorry to have brought 
that tearful happiness upon her. 

In the mean time, there had been a pretty sharp commotion at John 
Peerybingle's ; for little Mrs. Peerybingle naturally couldn't think of 
going anywhere without the Baby ; and to get the Baby under weigh, 
took time. Not that there was much of the Baby : speaking of it as a 
thing of weight and measure : but there was a vast deal to do about and 
about it, and it all had to be done by easy stages. For instance : when 
the Baby was got, by hook and by crook, to a certain point of dressing, 
and you might have rationally supposed that another touch or two would 
finish him off, and turn him out a tip-top Baby challenging the world, he 
was unexpectedly extinguished in a flannel cap, and hustled off to bed ; 
where he simmered (so to speak) between two blankets for the best part 
of an hour. From this state of inaction he was then recalled, shining 
very much and roaring violently, to partake of — well ! I would rather 
say, if you'll permit me to speak generally — of a slight repast. After 
which, he went to sleep again. Mrs. Peerybingle took advantage of this 
interval, to make herself as smart in a small way as ever you saw anybody 
in all your life ; and, during the same short truce. Miss Slowboy 
insinuated herself into a spencer of a fashion so surprising and ingenious, 
that it had no connection with herself, or anything else in the universe, 
but was a shrunken, dog's-eared, independent fact, pursuing its lonely 
course without the least regard to anybody. By this time, the 
Baby, being all alive again, was invested, by the united efforts of 
Mrs. Peerybingle and Miss Slowboy, with a cream-coloured mantle 
for its body, and a sort of nankeen raised-pie for its head ; and so 
in course of time they all three got down to the door, where the old 
horse had already taken more than the full value of his day's toll out 
of the Turnpike Trust by tearing up the road with his impatient 
autographs — and whence Boxer might be dimly seen in the remote 
perspective, standing looking back, and tempting him to come on with- 
out orders. 

As to a chair, or anything of that kind for helping Mrs. Peerybingle 
into the cart, you know very httle of John, I flatter myself, if you think 
that was necessary. Before you could have seen him lift her from the 
ground, there she was in her place, fresh and rosy, saying," John ! How 
CAN you! Think of Tilly ! " 

If I might be allowed to mention a young lady's legs, on any terms, I 
would observe of Miss Slowboy's that there was a fatality about them 
which rendered them singularly liable to be grazed ; and that she never 
effected the smallest ascent or descent, without recording the circum- 
stance upon them with a notch, as Robinson Crusoe marked the days 
upon hi s wooden calendar. But as this might be considered ungenteel, 
I'll think of it. 

" John .? You've got the basket with the Veal and Ham and Pie- 



146 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

things ; and the bottles of Beer ? " said Dot. " If you haven't, you 
must turn round again, this very minute." 

" You're a nice little article," returned the Carrier, " to be talking 
about turning round, after keeping me a full quarter of an hour behind 
my time." 

" I am sorry for it, John," said Dot in a great bustle, " but I really 
could not think of going to Bertha's — I would not do it, John, on any 
account — ^without the Veal and Ham-Pie and things, and the bottles of 
Beer. Way ! " 

This monosyllable was addressed to the horse, who didn't mind it at all. 
" Oh do way, John ! " said Mrs. Peerybingle. " Please ! " 
" It'll be time enough to do that," returned John, " when I begin to 
leave things behind me. The basket's here, safe enough." 

" V^Tiat a hard-hearted monster you must be, John, not to have said 
so, at once, and save me such a turn ! I declared I wouldn't go to 
Bertha's without the Veal and Ham-Pie and things, and the bottles of 
Beer, for any money. Regularly once a fortnight ever since we have 
been married, John, have we made our little Pic-Nic there. If anything 
was to go wrong with it, I should almost think we were never to be lucky 
again." 

" It was a kind thought in the first instance," said the Carrier ; " and 
I honour you for it, little woman." 

" My dear John," repHed Dot, turning very red. " Don't talk about 
honouring me. Good Gracious ! " 

" By the bye — " observed the Carrier. " That old gentleman," 

Again so visibly, and instantly embarrassed. 

*' He's an odd fish," said the Carrier, looking straight along the road 
before them. " I can't make him out. I don't beheve there's any harm 
in him." 

" None at all. I'm — I'm sure there's none at all." 
" Yes .? " said the Carrier, with his eyes attracted to her face by the 
great earnestness of her manner. " I am glad you feel so certain of it, 
because it's a confirmation to me. It's curious that he should have 
taken it into his head to ask leave to go on lodging with us ; an't it ? 
Things come about so strangely." 

" So very strangely," she rejoined in a low voice : scarcely audible. 
" However, he's a good-natured old gentleman," said John, " and 
pays as a gentleman, and I think his word is to be reUed upon, Hke a 
gentleman's. I had quite a long talk with him this morning : he can 
hear me better already, he says, as he gets more used to my voice. He 
told me a great deal about himself, and I told him a good deal about 
myself, and a rare lot of questions he asked me. I gave him information 
about my having two beats, you know, in my business ; one day to the 
right from our house and back again ; another day to the left from our 
house and back again (for he's a stranger and don't know the names of 
places about here) ; and he seemed quite pleased. ' Why, then I shall 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 147 

be returning home to-night your way,' he says, ' when I thought you'd 
be coming in an exactly opposite direction. That's capital. I may 
trouble you for another lift perhaps, but I'll engage not to fall so sound 
asleep again.' He was sound asleep, sure-ly ! — Dot ! what are you 
thinking of ? " 

" Thinking of, John ? I — I was Hstening to you." 

" Oh ! That's all right ! " said the honest Carrier. " I was afraid, 
from the look of your face, that I had gone rambling on so long, as to set 
you thinking about something else. I was very near it, I'll be bound." 

Dot making no reply, they jogged on, for some little time, in silence. 
But it was not easy to remain silent very long in John Peerybingle's cart, 
for everybody on the road had something to say ; though it might only 
be " How are you ! " and indeed it was very often nothing else, still, to 
give that back again in the right spirit of cordiality, required, not merely 
a nod and a smile, but as wholesome an action of the lungs withal, as a 
long-winded Parliamentary speech. Sometimes, passengers on foot, or 
horseback, plodded on a little way beside the cart, for the express purpose 
of having a chat ; and then there was a great deal to be said, on both sides. 

Then, Boxer gave occasion to more good-natured recognitions of and 
by the Carrier, than half-a-dozen Christians could have done ! Every- 
body knew him, all along the road — especially the fowls and pigs, who 
when they saw him approaching, with his body all on one side, and his 
ears pricked up inquisitively, and that knob of a tail making the most of 
itself in the air, immediately withdrew into remote back settlements, 
without waiting for the honour of a nearer acquaintance. He had 
business everywhere ; going down all the turnings, looking into all the 
wells, bolting in and out of all the cottages, dashing into the midst of all 
the Dame-Schools, fluttering all the pigeons, magnifying the tails of all 
the cats, and trotting into the public-houses like a regular customer. 
Wherever he went, somebody or other might have been heard to cry, 
" Halloa ! Here's Boxer ! " and out came that somebody forthwith 
accompanied by at least two or three other somebodies, to give John 
Peerybingle and his pretty wife. Good Day. 

The packages and parcels for the errand cart were numerous ; and 
there were many stoppages to take them in and give them out ; which 
were not by any means the worst parts of the journey. Some people 
were so full of expectation about their parcels, and other people were so 
full of wonder about their parcels, and other people were so full of 
inexhaustible directions about their parcels, and John had such a Hvely 
interest in all the parcels, that it was as good as a play. Likewise, there 
were articles to carry, which required to be considered and discussed, and 
in reference to the adjustment and disposition of which, councils had to 
be holden by the Carrier and the senders : at which Boxer usually 
assisted, in short fits of the closest attention, and long fits of tearing 
round and round the assembled sages and barking himself hoarse. Of all 
these little incidents, Dot was the amused and open-eyed spectatress 



148 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

from her chair in the cart ; and as she sat there, looking on : a charming 
httle portrait framed to admiration by the tilt : there was no lack of 
nudgings and glancings and whisperings and envyings among the 
younger men, I promise you. And this dehghted John the Carrier, 
beyond measure ; for he was proud to have his little wife admired ; 
knowing that she didn't mind it — that, if anything, she rather liked it 
perhaps. 

The trip was a little foggy, to be sure, in the January weather ; and 
was raw and cold. But who cared for such trifles ? Not Dot, decidedly. 
Not Tilly Slowboy, for she deemed sitting in a cart, on any terms, to be 
the highest point of human joys ; the crowning circumstance of earthly 
hopes. Not the Baby, I'll be sworn ; for it's not in Baby nature to be 
warmer or more sound asleep, though its capacity is great in both 
respects, than that blessed young Peerybingle was, all the way. 

You couldn't see very far in the fog, of course ; but you could see a 
great deal, oh a great deal ! It's astonishing how much you may see, in 
a thicker fog than that, if you will only take the trouble to look for it. 
Why, even to sit watching for the Fairy-rings in the fields, and for the 
patches of hoar-frost still lingering in the shade, near hedges and by trees, 
was a pleasant occupation : to make no mention of the unexpected 
shapes in which the trees themselves came starting out of the mist, and 
glided into it again. The hedges were tangled and bare, and waved a 
multitude of blighted garlands in the wind ; but there was no dis- 
couragement in this. It was agreeable to contemplate ; for it made the 
fireside warmer in possession, and the summer greener in expectancy. 
The river looked chilly ; but it was in motion, and moving at a good 
pace ; which was a great point. The canal was rather slow and torpid ; 
that must be admitted. Never mind. It would freeze the sooner when 
the frost set fairly in, and then there would be skating, and sliding ; and 
the heavy old barges, frozen up somewhere, near a wharf, would smoke 
their rusty iron chimney-pipes all day, and have a lazy time of it. 

In one place, there was a great mound of weeds or stubble burning ; 
and they watched the fire, so white in the day time, flaring through the 
fog, with only here and there a dash of red in it, until, in consequence as 
she observed of the smoke " getting up her nose," Miss Slowboy choked — 
she could do anything of that sort, on the smallest provocation — and 
woke the Baby, who wouldn't go to sleep again. But Boxer, who was 
in advance some quarter of a mile or so, had already passed the outposts 
of the town, and gained the corner of the street where Caleb and his 
daughter lived ; and long before they reached the door, he and the 
Bhnd Girl were on the pavement waiting to receive them. 

Boxer, by the way, made certain delicate distinctions of his own, in his 
communication with Bertha, which persuade me fully that he knew her 
to be bhnd. He never sought to attract her attention by looking at her, 
as he often did with other people, but touched her, invariably. What 
experience he could ever have had of bhnd people or bhnd dogs, I don't 



THECRICKET ON THE HEARTH 149 

know. He had never lived with a blind master ; nor had Mr. Boxer the 
elder, nor Mrs. Boxer, nor any of his respectable family on either side, 
^."ver been visited with blindness, that I am aware of. He may have 
?.ound it out for himself, perhaps, but he had got hold of it somehow ; 
Sad therefore he had hold of Bertha too, by the skirt, and kept hold, until 
Mrs. Peerybingle and the Baby, and Miss Slowboy, and the basket, were 
all got safely within doors. 

May Fielding was already come ; and so was her mother — a httle 
querulous chip of an old lady with a peevish face, who, in right of having 
preserved a waist like a bedpost, was supposed to be a most transcendent 
iigure ; and who, in consequence of having once been better off, or of 
labouring under an impression that she might have been, if something 
had happened which never did happen, and seemed to have never been 
particularly likely to come to pass — but it's all the same — ^was very 
genteel and patronising indeed. Gruff and Tackleton was also there, 
doing the agreeable, with the evident sensation of being as perfectly at 
home, and as unquestionably in his own element, as a fresh young salmon 
on the top of the Great Pyramid. 

" May ! My dear old friend ! " cried Dot, running up to meet her. 
" What a happiness to see you ! " 

Her old friend was, to the full, as hearty and as glad as she ; and it 
really was, if you'll beheve me, quite a pleasant sight to see them embrace. 
Tackleton was a man of taste, beyond all question. May was very pretty. 

You know sometimes, when you are used to a pretty face, how, when 
it comes into contact and comparison with another pretty face, it seems 
for the moment to be homely and faded, and hardly to deserve the high 
opinion you have had of it. Now, this was not at all the case, either with 
Dot or May ; for May's face set off Dot's, and Dot's face set off May's, 
so naturally and agreeably, that, as John Peerybingle was very near 
saying when he came into the room, they ought to have been born 
sisters — which was the only improvement you could have suggested. 

Tackleton had brought his leg of mutton, and, wonderful to relate, a 
tart besides — but we don't mind a little dissipation when our brides are 
in the case ; we don't get married every day — and in addition to these 
dainties, there were the Veal and Ham-Pie, and " things," as Mrs. 
Peerybingle called them ; which were chiefly nuts and oranges, and 
cakes, and such small deer. When the repast was set forth on the board, 
flanked by Caleb's contribution, which was a great wooden bowl of 
smoking potatoes (he was prohibited, by solemn compact, from producing 
any other viands), Tackleton led his intended mother-in-law to the Post 
of Honour. For the better gracing of this place at the high Festival, the 
majestic old Soul had adorned herself with a cap, calculated to inspire 
the thoughtless with sentiments of awe. She also wore her gloves. But 
let us be genteel, or die ! 

Caleb sat next his daughter ; Dot and her old schoolfellow were side 
by side ; the good Carrier took care of the bottom of the table. Miss 



150 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

Slowboy was isolated, for the time being, from every article of furniture 
but the chair she sat on, that she might have nothing else to knock the 
Baby's head against. 

As Tilly stared about her at the dolls and toys, they stared at her an<a 
at the company. The venerable old gentlemen at the street doors (wh ' 
were all in full action) showed especial interest in the party ; pausing 
occasionally before leaping, as if they were listening to the conversation : 
and then plunging wildly over and over, a great many times, without 
halting for breath, — as in a frantic state of delight with the whole 
proceedings. 

Certainly, if these old gentlemen were inclined to have a fiendish joy 
in the contemplation of Tackleton's discomfiture, they had good reason 
to be satisfied. Tackleton couldn't get on at all ; and the more cheerful 
his intended bride became in Dot's society, the less he liked it, though he 
had brought them together for that purpose. For he was a regular Dog 
in the Manger, was Tackleton ; and when they laughed, and he couldn't, 
he took it into his head, immediately, that they must be laughing at him. 

" Ah May ! " said Dot. " Dear dear, what changes ! To talk of 
those merry school-days makes one young again." 

" Why, you an't particularly old, at any time ; are you ? " said 
Tackleton. 

" Look at my sober plodding husband there," returned Dot. " He 
adds twenty years to my age at least. Don't you, John ? " 

" Forty," John replied. 

" How many you'll add to May's, I'm sure I don't know," said Dot, 
laughing. " But she can't be much less than a hundred years of age on 
her next birthday." 

" Ha ha ! " laughed Tackleton. Hollow as a drum, that laugh though. 
And he looked as if he could have twisted Dot's neck : comfortably. 

" Dear dear ! " said Dot. " Only to remember how we used to talk, 
at school, about the husbands we would choose. I don't know how 
young, and how handsome, and how gay, and how lively, mine was not 
to be : And as to May's — ! Ah dear ! I don't know whether to laugh 
or cry, when I think what silly girls we were." 

May seemed to know which to do ; for the colour flashed into her face, 
and tears stood in her eyes. 

" Even the very persons themselves — real live young men — were fixed 
on sometimes," said Dot. " We little thought how things would come 
about. I never fixed on John, I'm sure ; I never so much as thought of 
him. And if I had told you, you were ever to be married to Mr. Tack- 
leton, why you'd have slapped me. Wouldn't you, May ? " 

Though May didn't say yes, she certainly didn't say no, or express no, 
by any means. 

Tackleton laughed — quite shouted, he laughed so loud. John Peery- 
bingle laughed too, in his ordinary good-natured and contented manner ; 
but his was a mere whisper of a laugh, to Tackleton's. 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 151 

" You couldn't help yourselves, for all that. You couldn't resist us, 
you see," said Tackleton. " Here we are ! Here we are ! Where are 
your gay young bridegrooms now ! " 

" Some of them are dead," said Dot ; " and some of them forgotten. 
Some of them, if they could stand among us at this moment, would not 
believe we were the same creatures ; would not believe that what they 
saw and heard was real, and we could forget them so. No ! they would 
not believe one word of it ! " 

" Why, Dot ! " exclaimed the Carrier. " Little woman ! " 

She had spoken with such earnestness and fire, that she stood in need of 
some recalling to herself, without doubt. Her husband's check was very 
gentle, for he merely interfered, as he supposed, to shield old Tackleton ; 
but it proved effectual, for she stopped, and said no more. There was 
an uncommon agitation, even in her silence, which the wary Tackleton, 
who had brought his half-shut eye to bear upon her, noted closely ; and 
remembered to some purpose too, as you will see. 

May uttered no word, good or bad, but sat quite still, with her eyes 
cast down ; and made no sign of interest in what had passed. The good 
lady her mother now interposed : observing, in the first instance, that 
girls were girls, and bygones bygones, and that so long as young people 
were young and thoughtless, they would probably conduct themselves 
like young and thoughtless persons ; with two or three or other positions of 
a no less sound and incontrovertible character. She then remarked, in 
a devout spirit, that she thanked Heaven she had always found in her 
daughter May, a dutiful and obedient child ; for which she took no 
credit to herself, though she had every reason to believe it was entirely 
owing to herself. With regard to Mr. Tackleton she said. That he was 
in a moral point of view an undeniable individual ; and That he was in 
an eligible point of view a son-in-law to be desired, no one in their senses 
could doubt. (She was very emphatic here.) With regard to the 
family into which he was so soon about, after some solicitation, to be 
admitted, she believed Mr. Tackleton knew that, although reduced in 
purse, it had some pretensions to gentility ; and if certain circumstances, 
not wholly unconnected, she would go so far as to say, with the Indigo 
Trade, but to which she would not more particularly refer, had happened 
differently, it might perhaps have been in possession of Wealth. She 
then remarked that she would not allude to the past, and would not 
mention that her daughter had for some time rejected the suit of Mr. 
Tackleton ; and that she would not say a great many other things which 
she did say, at great length. Finally she delivered it as the general 
result of her observation and experience, that those marriages in which 
there was least of what was romantically and sillily called love, were 
always the happiest ; and that she anticipated the greatest possible 
amount of bliss — not rapturous bliss ; but the solid, steady-going article 
— from the approaching nuptials. She concluded by informing the 
company that to-morrow was the day she had lived for, expressly ; and 



152 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

that when it was over, she would desire nothing better than to be packed 
up and disposed of, in any genteel place of burial. 

As these remarks were quite unanswerable : which is the happy 
property of all remarks that are sufficiently wide of the purpose : they 
changed the current of the conversation, and diverted the general 
attention to the Veal and Ham-Pie, the cold mutton, the potatoes, and 
the tart. In order that the bottled beer might not be slighted, John 
Peerybingle proposed To-morrow : the Wedding-Day ; and called upon 
them to drink a bumper to it, before he proceeded on his journey. 

For you ought to know that he only rested there, and gave the old 
horse a bait. He had to go some four or five miles farther on ; and 
when he returned in the evening, he called for Dot, and took another 
rest on his way home. This was the order of the day on all the Pic-Nic 
occasions, and had been, ever since their institution. 

There were two persons present, beside the bride and bridegroom 
elect, who did but indifferent honour to the toast. One of these was 
Dot, too flushed and discomposed to adapt herself to any small occurrence 
of the moment ; the other, Bertha, who rose up hurriedly, before the 
rest, and left the table. 

" Good-bye ! " said stout John Peerybingle, pulling on his dreadnought 
coat. " I shall be back at the old time. Good-bye all ! " 

" Good-bye, John," returned Caleb. 

He seemed to say it by rote, and to wave his hand in the same uncon- 
scious manner ; for he stood observing Bertha with an anxious wondering 
face, that never altered its expression. 

" Good-bye, young shaver ! " said the jolly Carrier, bending down to 
kiss the child ; which Tilly Slowboy, now intent upon her knife and fork, 
had deposited asleep (and strange to say, without damage) in a little cot 
of Bertha's furnishing ; " good-bye ! Time will come, I suppose, when 
you^W turn out into the cold, my little friend, and leave your old father 
to enjoy his pipe and his rheumatics in the chimney-corner ; eh ? 
Where's Dot ? " 

" I'm here, John ! " she said, starting. 

" Come, come ! " returned the Carrier, clapping his sounding hands. 
" Where's the pipe ? " 

" I quite forgot the pipe, John." 

Forgot the pipe ! Was such a wonder ever heard of ! She ! Forgot 
the pipe ! 

" I'll— I'll fill it directly. It's soon done." 

But it was not so soon done, either. It lay in the usual place ; the 
Carrier's dreadnought pocket ; with the little pouch, her own work, 
from which she was used to fill it ; but her hand shook so, that she 
entangled it (and yet her hand was small enough to have come out easily, 
I am sure), and bungled terribly. The filling of the pipe and lighting it ; 
those little offices in which I have commended her discretion, if you 
recollect ; were vilely done, from first to last. During the whole 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 153 

process, Tackleton stood looking on maliciously with the half-closed 
eye ; which, whenever it met hers — or caught it, for it can hardly be 
said to have ever met another eye : rather being a kind of trap to snatch 
it up — augmented her confusion in a most remarkable degree. 

" Why, what a clumsy Dot you are, this afternoon ! " said John. " I 
could have done it better myself, I verily believe ! " 

With these good-natured words, he strode away ; and presently was 
heard, in company with Boxer, and the old horse, and the cart, making 
lively music down the road. What time the dreamy Caleb still 
stood, watching his Blind Daughter, with the same expression on his 
face. 

" Bertha ! " said Caleb, softly. " What has happened ? How 
changed you are, my darling, in a few hours — since this morning. Tou 
silent and dull all day ! What is it ? Tell me ! " 

" Oh father, father ! " cried the Blind Girl, bursting into tears. " Oh 
my hard, hard fate ! " 

Caleb drew his hand across his eyes before he answered her. 

" But think how cheerful and how happy you have been. Bertha ! 
How good, and how much loved, by many people." 

" That strikes me to the heart, dear father ! Always so mindful of 
me ! Always so kind to me ! " 

Caleb was very much perplexed to understand her. 

" To be — to be blind, Bertha, my poor dear," he faltered, " is a great 
affliction; but " 

" I have never felt it ! " cried the Blind Girl. " I have never felt it 
in its fullness. Never ! I have sometimes wished that I could see you, 
or could see him ; only once, dear father ; only for one little minute ; 
that I might know what it is I treasure up," she laid her hands upon her 
breast, " and hold here ! That I might be sure I have it right ! And 
sometimes (but then I was a child) I have wept, in my prayers at night, 
to think that when your images ascended from my heart to Heaven, they 
might not be the true resemblance of yourselves. But I have never had 
these feelings long. They have passed away and left me tranquil and 
contented." 

" And they will again," said Caleb. 

" But father ! Oh my good, gentle father, bear with me, if I am 
wicked ! " said the Blind Girl. " This is not the sorrow that so weighs 
me down ! " 

Her father could not choose but let his moist eyes overflow ; she was 
so earnest and pathetic. But he did not understand her, yet. 

" Bring her to me," said Bertha. " I cannot hold it closed and shut 
within myself. Bring her to me, father ! " 

She knew he hesitated, and said, " May. Bring May ! " 

May heard the mention of her name, and coming quietly towards her, 
touched her on the arm. The Blind Girl turned immediately, and held 
her by both hands. 



154 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

" Look into my face, Dear heart, Sweet heart ! " said Bertha. " Read 
it with your beautiful eyes, and tell me if the Truth is written on it " 
" Dear Bertha, Yes ! " 

The Blind Girl, still upturning the blank sightless face, down which 
the tears were coursing fast, addressed her in these words : 

" There is not, in my Soul, a wish or thought that is not for your good, 
bright May ! There is not, in my Soul, a grateful recollection stronger 
than the deep remembrance which is stored there, of the many times 
when, in the full pride of Sight and Beauty, you have had consideration 
for Blind Bertha, even when we two were children, or when Bertha was 
as much a child as ever blindness can be ! Every blessing on your head ! 
Light upon your happy course ! Not the less, my dear May ; " and she 
drew towards her, in a closer grasp ; " not the less, my bird, because, 
to-day, the knowledge that you are to be His wife has wrung my heart 
almost to breaking : Father, May, Mary ! oh forgive me that it is so, 
for the sake of all he has done to relieve the weariness of my dark life : 
and for the sake of the belief you have in me, when I call Heaven to 
witness that I could not wish him married to a wife more worthy of his 
Goodness ! " 

While speaking, she had released May Fielding's hands, and clasped 
her garments in an attitude of mingled supplication and love. Sinking 
lower and lower down, as she proceeded in her strange confession, she 
dropped at last at the feet of her friend, and hid her blind face in the 
folds of her dress. 

" Great Power ! " exclaimed her father, smitten at one blow with the 
truth, " have I deceived her from her cradle, but to break her heart at 
last ! " 

It was well for all of them that Dot, that beaming, useful, busy little 
Dot — for such she was, whatever faults she had, and however you may 
learn to hate her, in good time — it was well for all of them, I say, that 
she was there : or where this would have ended, it were hard to tell. 
But Dot, recovering her self-possession, interposed, before May could 
reply, or Caleb say another word. 

" Come come, dear Bertha ! come away with me ! Give her your 
arm. May. So ! How composed she is, you see, already ; and how 
good it is of her to mind us," said the cheery little woman, kissing her 
upon the forehead. " Come away, dear Bertha ! Come ! and here's 
her good father will come with her ; won't you, Caleb .? To — be — 
sure ! " 

Well, well ! she was a noble little Dot in such things, and it must have 
been an obdurate nature that could have withstood her influence. 
When she had got poor Caleb and his Bertha away, that they might 
comfort and console each other, as she knew they only could, she presently 
came bouncing back, — the saying is, as fresh as any daisy ; / say fresher — 
to mount guard over that bridling little piece of consequence in the cap 
and gloves, and prevent the dear old creature from making discoveries. 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 155 

" So bring me the precious Baby, Tilly," said she, drawing a chair to 
the fire ; " and while I have it in my lap, here's Mrs. Fielding, Tilly, will 
tell me all about the management of Babies, and put me right in twenty 
points where I'm as wrong as can be. Won't you, Mrs. Fielding ? " 

Not even the Welsh Giant, who according to the popular expression, 
was so " slow " as to perform a fatal surgical operation upon himself, in 
emulation of a juggling-trick achieved by his arch-enemy at breakfast- 
time ; not even he fell half so readily into the Snare prepared for him, as 
the old lady did into this artful Pitfall. The fact of Tackleton having 
walked out ; and furthermore, of two or three people having been talking 
together at a distance, for two minutes, leaving her to her own resources ; 
was quite enough to have put her on her dignity, and the bewailment of 
that mysterious convulsion in the Indigo Trade, for four-and-twenty 
hours. But this becoming deference to her experience, on the part of 
the young mother, was so irresistible, that after a short affectation of 
humility, she began to enlighten her with the best grace in the world ; 
and sitting bolt upright before the wicked Dot, she did, in half an hour, 
deliver more infallible domestic recipes and precepts, than would (if 
acted on) have utterly destroyed and done up that Young Peerybingle, 
though he had been an Infant Samson. 

To change the theme. Dot did a little needlework — she carried the 
contents of a whole workbox in her pocket ; however she contrived it, / 
don't know — then did a little nursing ; then a little more needlework ; 
then had a little whispering chat with May, while the old lady dozed ; 
and so in little bits of bustle, which was quite her manner always, found 
it a very short afternoon. Then, as it grew dark, and as it was a solemn 
part of this Institution of thePic-Nic that she should perform all Bertha's 
household tasks, she trimmed the fire, and swept the hearth, and set the 
tea-board out, and drew the curtain, and lighted a candle. Then, she 
played an air or two on a rude kind of harp, which Caleb had contrived 
for Bertha ; and played them very well ; for Nature had made her 
delicate little ear as choice a one for music as it would have been for 
jewels, if she had had any to wear. By this time it was the established 
hour for having tea ; and Tackleton came back again, to share the meal, 
and spend the evening. 

Caleb and Bertha had returned some time before, and Caleb had sat 
down to his afternoon's work. But he couldn't settle to it, poor fellow, 
being anxious and remorseful for his daughter. It was touching to see 
him sitting idle on his working-stool, regarding her so wistfully ; and 
always saying in his face, " Have I deceived her from her cradle, but to 
break her heart ! " 

When it was night, and tea was done, and Dot had nothing more to do 
in washing up the cups and saucers ; in a word — for I must come to it, 
and there is no use in putting it off — when the time drew nigh for 
expecting the Carrier's return in every sound of distant wheels ; her 
manner changed again ; her colour came and went ; and she was very 



156 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

restless. Not as good wives are, when listening for their husbands. No, 
no, no. It was another sort of restlessness from that. 

Wheels heard. A horse's feet. The barking of a dog. The gradual 
approach of all the sounds. The scratching paw of Boxer at the door ! 

" Whose step is that ! " cried Bertha, starting up. 

" Whose step ? " returned the Carrier, standing in the portal, with 
his brown face ruddy as a winter berry from the keen night air. " Why, 
mine." 

" The other step," said Bertha. "- The man's tread behind you ! " 

" She is not to be deceived," observed the Carrier, laughing. " Come 
along, sir. You'll be welcome, never fear ! " 

He spoke in a loud tone ; and as he spoke, the deaf old gentleman 
entered. 

" He's not so much a stranger, that you haven't seen him once, Caleb," 
said the Carrier. " You'll give him house-room till we go ? " 

" Oh surely John ; and take it as an honour." 

" He's the best company on earth, to talk secrets in," said John. " I 
have reasonable good lungs, but he tries 'em, I can tell you. Sit down, 
sir. All friends here, and glad to see you ! " 

When he had imparted this assurance, in a voice that amply corrobo- 
rated what he had said about his lungs, he added in his natural tone, 
" A chair in the chimney-corner, and leave to sit quite silent and look 
pleasantly about him, is all he cares for. He's easily pleased." 

Bertha had been listening intently. She called Caleb to her side, 
when he had set the chair, and asked him, in a low voice, to describe their 
visitor. When he had done so (truly now ; with scrupulous fidelity), 
she moved, for the first time since he had come in ; and sighed ; and 
seemed to have no further interest concerning him. 

The Carrier was in high spirits, good fellow that he was ; and fonder 
of his little wife than ever. 

" A clumsy Dot she was, this afternoon ! " he said, encircling her with 
his rough arm, as she stood, removed from the rest ; " and yet I like her 
somehow. See yonder. Dot ! " 

He pointed to the old man. She looked down. I think she trembled. 

" He's — ha ha ha ! — he's full of admiration for you ! " said the Carrier. 
" Talked of nothing else, the whole way here. Why, he's a brave old 
boy. I like him for it ! " 

" I wish he had had a better subject, John ; " she said, with an uneasy 
glance about the room ; at Tackleton especially. 

" A better subject ! " cried the jovial John. " There's no such thing. 
Come ! off with the great-coat, ofif with the thick shawl, oflt with the 
heavy wrappers ! and a cosy half-hour by the fire ! My humble service, 
mistress. A game at cribbage, you and I ? That's hearty. The cards 
and board. Dot. And a glass of beer here, if there's any left, small 
wife!" 

His challenge was addressed to the old lady, who accepting it with 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 157 

gracious readiness, they were soon engaged upon the game. At first, 
the Carrier looked about him sometimes, with a smile, or now and then 
called Dot to peep over his shoulder at his hand, and advise him on some 
knotty point. But his adversary being a rigid disciplinarian, and subject 
to an occasional weakness in respect of pegging more than she was 
entitled to, required such vigilance on his part, as left him neither eyes 
nor ears to spare. Thus, his whole attention gradually became absorbed 
upon the cards ; and he thought of nothing else, until a hand upon his 
shoulder restored him to a consciousness of Tackleton. 

" I am sorry to disturb you — but a word, directly." 

" I'm going to deal," returned the Carrier. " It's a crisis." 

" It is," said Tackleton. " Come here, man ! " 

There was that in his pale face which made the other rise immediately, 
and ask him, in a hurry, what the matter was. 

" Hush ! John Peerybingle," said Tackleton. " I am sorry for this. 
I am indeed. I have been afraid of it. I have suspected it from the 
first." 

" What is it ? " asked the Carrier, with a frightened aspect. 

" Hush ! I'll show you, if you'll come with me." 

The Carrier accompanied him, without another word. They went 
across a yard, where the stars were shining ; and by a little side door, into 
Tackleton's own counting-house, where there was a glass window, com- 
manding the ware-room : which was closed for the night. There was 
no light in the counting-house itself, but there were lamps in the long 
narrow ware-room ; and consequently the window was bright. 

" A moment ! " said Tackleton. " Can you bear to look through that 
window, do you think ? " 

" Why not ? " returned the Carrier. 

" A moment more," said Tackleton. " Don't commit any violence. 
It's of no use. It's dangerous too. You're a strong-made man ; and 
you might do Murder before you know it." 

The Carrier looked him in the face, and recoiled a step as if he had 
been struck. In one stride he was at the window, and he saw — 

Oh Shadow on the Hearth ! Oh truthful Cricket ! Oh perfidious 
Wife! 

He saw her, with the old man ; old no longer, but erect and gallant : 
bearing in his hand the false white hair that had won his way into their 
desolate and miserable home. He saw her listening to him, as he bent 
his head to whisper in her ear ; and suffering him to clasp her round the 
waist, as they moved slowly down the dim wooden gallery towards the 
door by which they had entered it. He saw them stop, and saw her 
turn — to have the face, the face he loved so, so presented to his view ! — 
and saw her, with her own hands, adjust the Lie upon his head, laughing 
as she did it, at his unsuspicious nature ! 

He clenched his strong right hand at first, as if it would have beaten 
down a lion. But opening it immediately again, he spread it out before 



158 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

the eyes of Tackleton (for he was tender of her, even then), and so, as 
they passed out, fell down upon a desk, and was as weak as any infant. 

He was wrapped up to the chin, and busy with his horse and parcels, 
when she came into the room, prepared for going home. 

" Now John, dear ! Good night. May ! Good night, Bertha ! " 
Could she kiss them .? Could she be blithe and cheerful in her parting ? 
Could she venture to reveal her face to them without a blush ? Yes. 
Tackleton observed her closely ; and she did all this. 

Tilly was hushing the baby ; and she crossed and recrossed Tackleton, 
a dozen times, repeating drowsily : 

" Did the knowledge that it was to be its wifes, then, wring its hearts 
almost to breaking ; and did its fathers deceive it from its cradles but to 
break its hearts at last ! " 

" Now, Tilly, give me the Baby. Good night, Mr. Tackleton. 
Where's John, for Goodness' sake .? " 

" He's going to walk, beside the horse's head," said Tackleton ; who 
helped her to her seat. 

" My dear John. Walk ? To-night ? " 

The muffled figure of her husband made a hasty sign in the affirmative ; 
and the false stranger and the little nurse being in their places, the old 
horse moved off. Boxer, the unconscious Boxer, running on before, 
running back, running round and round the cart, and barking as trium- 
phantly and merrily as ever. 

When Tackleton had gone off likewise, escorting May and her mother 
home, poor Caleb sat down by the fire beside his daughter ; anxious and 
remorseful at the core ; and still saying in his wistful contemplation of 
her, " Have I deceived her from her cradle, but to break her heart at 
last ! " 

The toys that had been set in motion for the Baby, had all stopped 
and run down, long ago. In the faint light and silence, the imperturb- 
ably calm dolls ; the agitated rocking-horses with distended eyes and 
nostrils ; the old gentlemen at the street doors, standing, half doubled 
up, upon their failing knees and ankles ; the wry-faced nut-crackers ; 
the very Beasts upon their way into the Ark, in twos, like a Boarding- 
School out walking ; might have been imagined to be stricken motionless 
with fantastic wonder, at Dot being false, or Tackleton beloved, under 
any combination of circumstances. 



CHIRP THE THIRD 

The Dutch clock in the corner struck Ten, when the Carrier sat down 
by his fireside. So troubled and grief -worn, that he seemed to scare the 
Cuckoo, who, having cut his ten melodious announcements as short as 
possible, plunged back into the Moorish Palace again, and clapped his 
little door behind him, as if the unwonted spectacle were too much for 
his feelings. 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 159 

If the little Haymaker had been armed with the sharpest of scythes^ 
and had cut at every stroke into the Carrier's heart, he never could have 
gashed and wounded it, as Dot had done. 

It was a heart so full of love for her ; so bound up and held together 
by innumerable threads of winning remembrance, spun from the daily 
working of her many qualities of endearment ; it was a heart in which 
she had enshrined herself so gently and so closely ; a heart so single and 
so earnest in its Truth : so strong in right, so weak in wrong : that it 
could cherish neither passion nor revenge at first, and had only room to 
hold the broken image of its Idol. 

But slowly, slowly ; as the Carrier sat brooding on his hearth, now 
cold and dark ; other and fiercer thoughts began to rise within him, as 
an angry wind comes rising in the night. The Stranger was beneath his 
outraged roof. Three steps would take him to his chamber-door. One 
blow would beat it in. " You might do Murder before you know it,'^ 
Tackleton had said. How could it be Murder, if he gave the Villain 
time to grapple with him hand to hand ! He was the younger man. 

It was an ill-timed thought, bad for the dark mood of his mind. It 
was an angry thought, goading him to some avenging act, that should 
change the cheerful house into a haunted place which lonely travellers 
would dread to pass by night ; and where the timid would see shadows 
strugghng in the ruined windows when the moon was dim, and hear wild 
noises in the stormy weather. 

He was the younger man ! Yes, yes ; some lover who had won the 
heart that he had never touched. Some lover of her early choice : of 
whom she had thought and dreamed : for whom she had pined and 
pined : when he had fancied her so happy by his side. Oh agony to 
think of it ! 

She had been above stairs with the Baby, getting it to bed. As he sat 
brooding on the hearth, she came close beside him, without his know- 
ledge — in the turning of the rack of his great misery, he lost all other 
sounds — and put her little stool at his feet. He only knew it, when he 
felt her hand upon his own, and saw her looking up into his face. 

With wonder ? No. It was his first impression, and he was fain to 
look at her again, to set it right. No, not with wonder. With an eager 
and inquiring look ; but not with wonder. At first it was alarmed and 
serious ; then it changed into a strange, wild, dreadful smile of recogni- 
tion of his thoughts ; then there was nothing but her clasped hands on 
her brow, and her bent head, and falHng hair. 

Though the power of Omnipotence had been his to wield at that 
moment, he had too much of its Diviner property of Mercy in his breast, 
to have turned one feather's weight of it against her. But he could not 
bear to see her crouching down upon the little seat where he had often 
looked on her, with love and pride, so innocent and gay ; and when she 
rose and left him, sobbing as she went, he felt it a relief to have the 
vacant place beside him rather than her so long cheri&hed presence. This 



i6o THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

in itself was anguish keener than all : reminding him how desolate he 
was become, and how the great bond of his life was rent asunder. 

The more he felt this, and the more he knew he could have better 
borne to see her lying prematurely dead before him with their little child 
upon her breast, the higher and the stronger rose his wrath against his 
enemy. He looked about him for a weapon. 

There was a Gun, hanging on the wall. He took it down, and moved 
a pace or two towards the door of the perfidious Stranger's room. He 
knew the Gun was loaded. Some shadowy idea that it was just to shoot 
this man like a Wild Beast, seized him, and dilated in his mind until it 
grew into a monstrous demon in complete possession of him, casting out 
all milder thoughts and setting up its undivided empire. 

That phrase is wrong. Not casting out his milder thoughts, but 
artfully transforming them. Changing them into scourges to drive him 
on. Turning water into blood, Love into hate, Gentleness into blind 
ferocity. Her image, sorrowing, humbled, but still pleading to his 
tenderness and mercy with resistless power, never left his mind ; but 
staying there, it urged him to the door ; raised the weapon to his 
shoulder ; fitted and nerved his finger to the trigger ; and cried " Kill 
him In his bed ! " 

He reversed the Gun to beat the stock upon the door ; he already 
held it lifted in the air ; some indistinct design was in his thoughts of 
calling out to him to fly, for God's sake, by the window — 

When, suddenly, the struggling fire illumined the whole chimney with 
a glow of light ; and the Cricket on the Hearth began to chirp ! 

No sound he could have heard ; no human voice, not even hers ; 
could so have moved and softened him. The artless words in which she 
had told him of her love for this same Cricket, were once more freshly 
spoken; her trembling, earnest manner at the moment, was again before 
him ; her pleasant voice — Oh what a voice it was, for making household 
music at the fireside of an honest man ! — thrilled through and through 
his better nature, and awoke it into life and action. 

He recoiled from the door, like a man walking in his sleep, awakened 
from a frightful dream ; and put the Gun aside. Clasping his hands 
before his face, he then sat down again beside the fire, and found relief 
in tears. 

The Cricket on the Hearth came out into the room, and stood in 
Fairy shape before him. 

" ' I love it,' " said the Fairy Voice, repeating what he well remem- 
bered, *' ' for the many times I have heard it, and the many thoughts its 
harmless music has given me.' " 

" She said so ! " cried the Carrier. " True ! " 
'" This has been a happy Home, John ; and I love the Cricket for 
its sake ! ' " 

'It has been. Heaven knows." r'^turned the Carrier. " She made it 
happy, always, — until now." 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH i6i 

" So gracefully sweet-tempered ; so domestic, joyful, busy, and light- 
-hearted ! " said the Voice. 

" Otherwise I never could have loved her as I did," returned the 
Carrier, 

The Voice, correcting him, said "do." 

The Carrier repeated " as I did." But not firmly. His faltering 
tongue resisted his control, and would speak in its own way, for itself 
and him. 

The Figure, in an attitude of invocation, raised its hand and said : 

" Upon your own hearth " 

" The hearth she has blighted," interposed the Carrier. 

" The hearth she has — how often ! — blessed and brightened," said the 
Cricket : " the hearth which, but for her, were only a few stones and 
bricks and rusty bars, but which has been, through her, the Altar of your 
Home ; on which you have nightly sacrificed some petty passion, 
selfishness, or care, and offered up the homage of a tranquil mind, a 
trusting nature, and an overflowing heart ; so that the smoke from this 
poor chimney has gone upward with a better fragrance than the richest 
incense that is burnt before the richest shrines in all the gaudy Temples 
of this World ! — Upon your own hearth ; in its quiet sanctuary ; 
surrounded by its gentle influences and associations ; hear her ! Hear 
me ! Hear everything that speaks the language of your hearth and 
home ! " 

" And pleads for her ? " inquired the Carrier. 

" All things that speak the language of your hearth and home, mtist 
plead for her ! " returned the Cricket. " For they speak the Truth." 

And while the Carrier, with his head upon his hands, continued to sit 
meditating in his chair, the Presence stood beside him ; suggesting his 
reflections by its power, and presenting them before him, as in a Glass or 
Picture. It was not a solitary Presence. From the hearth-stone, from 
the chimney ; from the clock, the pipe, the kettle, and the cradle ; from 
the floor, the walls, the ceiling, and the stairs ; from the cart without 
and the cupboard within, and the household implements ; from every 
thing and every place with which she had ever been familiar, and with 
which she had ever entwined one recollection of herself in her unhappy 
husband's mind ; Fairies came trooping forth. Not to stand beside 
him as the Cricket did, but to busy and bestir themselves. To do all 
honour to Her image. To pull him by the skirts, and point to it when it 
appeared. To cluster round it, and embrace it, and strew flowers for it 
to tread on. To try to crown its fair head with their tiny hands. To 
show that they were fond of it and loved it ; and that there was not one 
ugly, wicked, or accusatory creature to claim knowledge of it — none but 
their playful and approving selves. 

His thoughts were constant to her image. It was always there. 

She sat plying her needle, before the fire, and singing to herself. 
Such a blithe, thriving, steady little Dot ! The fairy figures turned 

CC. F 



\. 

162 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

upon him all at once, by one consent, with one prodigious concentrated 
stare ; and seemed to say " Is this the light wife you are mourning for ! " 

There were sounds of gaiety outside : musical instruments, and noisy 
tongues, and laughter. A crowd of young merry-makers came pouring 
in ; among whom were May Fielding and a score of pretty girls. Dot 
was the fairest of them all ; as young as any of them too. They came to 
summon her to join their party. It was a dance. If ever little foot 
were made for dancing, hers was, surely. But she laughed, and shook 
her head, and pointed to her cookery on the fire, and her table ready 
spread : with an exulting defiance that rendered her more charming 
than she was before. And so she merrily dismissed them : nodding to 
her would-be partners, one by one, as they passed out, with a comical 
indifference, enough to make them go and drown themselves immediately 
if they were her admirers — and they must have been so, more or less ; 
they couldn't help it. And yet indifference was not her character. Oh 
no ! For presently, there came a eel-tain Carrier to the door ; and bless 
her what a welcome she bestowed upon him ! 

Again the staring figures turned upon him all at once, and seemed to 
say " Is this the wife who has forsaken you ! " 

A shadow fell upon the mirror or the picture : call it what you will. 
A great shadow of the Stranger, as he first stood underneath their roof ; 
covering its surface, and blotting out all other objects. But the nimble 
Fairies worked like Bees to clear it off again ; and Dot again was there. 
Still bright and beautiful. 

Rocking her little Baby in its cradle ; singing to it softly ; and resting 
her head upon a shoulder which had its counterpart in the musing figure 
by which the Fairy Cricket stood. 

The night — I mean the real night : not going by Fairy clocks — was 
wearing now ; and in this stage of the Carrier's thoughts, the moon 
burst out, and shone brightly in the sky. Perhaps some calm and quiet 
light had risen also, in his mind ; and he could think more soberly of 
what had happened. 

Although the shadow of the Stranger fell at intervals upon the glass — 
always distinct, and big, and thoroughly defined — it never fell so darkly 
as at first. Whenever it appeared, the Fairies uttered a general cry of 
consternation, and plied their little arms and legs, with inconceivable 
activity, to rub it out. And whenever they got at Dot again, and 
showed her to him once more, bright and beautiful, they cheered in the 
most inspiring manner. 

They never showed her, otherwise than beautiful and bright, for they 
were Household Spirits to whom Falsehood is annihilation ; and being 
so, what Dot was there for them, but the one active, beaming, pleasant 
little creature who had been the light and sun of the Carrier's Home ! 

The Fairies were prodigiously excited when they showed her, with the 
Baby, gossiping among a knot of sage old matrons, and affecting to be 
wondrous old and matronly herself, and leaning in a staid, demure old 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 163 

way upon her husband's arm, attempting — she ! such a bud of a little 
woman — to convey the idea of having abjured the vanities of the world 
in general, and of being the sort of person to whom it was no novelty at 
all to be a mother ; yet in the same breath, they showed her, laughing 
at the Carrier for being awkward, and pulling up his shirt-collar to make 
him smart, and mincing merrily about that very room to teach him how 
to dance. 

They turned, and stared immensely at him when they showed her 
with the Blind Girl ; for though she carried cheerfulness and animation 
with her, wheresoever she went, she bore those influences into Caleb 
Plummer's home, heaped up and running over. The Blind Girl's love 
for her, and trust in her, and gratitude to her ; her own good busy way 
of setting Bertha's thanks aside ; her dexterous little arts for filling up 
each moment of the visit in doing something useful to the house, and 
really working hard while feigning to make holiday ; her bountiful 
provision of those standing delicacies, the Veal and Ham-Pie and the 
bottles of Beer ; her radiant little face arriving at the door, and taking 
leave ; the wonderful expression in her whole self, from her neat foot to 
the crown of her head, of being a part of the establishment — a something 
necessary to it, which it couldn't be without ; all this the Fairies revelled 
in, and loved her for. And once again they looked upon him all at once, 
appealingly ; and seemed to say, while some among them nestled in her 
dress and fondled her, " Is this the Wife who has betrayed your confi- 
dence ! " 

More than once, or twice, or thrice, in the long thoughtful nJght, 
they showed her to him sitting on her favourite seat, with her bent head, 
her hands clasped on her brow, her falling hair. As he had seen her last. 
And when they found her thus, they neither turned nor looked upon 
him, but gathered close round her, and comforted and kissed her : and 
pressed on one another to show sympathy and kindness to her : and 
forgot him altogether. 

Thus the night passed. The moon went down ; the stars grew pale ; 
the cold day broke ; the sun rose. The Carrier still sat, musing, in the 
chimney corner. He had sat there, with his head upon his hands, all 
night. All night the faithful Cricket had been Chirp, Chirp, Chirping 
on the Hearth. All night he had listened to its voice. All night, the 
household Fairies had been busy with him. All night, she had been 
amiable and blameless in the Glass, except when that one shadow fell 
upon it. 

He rose up when it was broad day, and washed and dressed himself. 
He couldn't go about his customary cheerful avocations ; he wanted 
spirit for them ; but it mattered the less, that it was Tackleton's wedding- 
d y, and he had arranged to make his rounds by proxy. He had thought 
to have gone merrily to church with Dot. But such plans were at an 
end. It was their own wedding-day too. Ah ! how little he had 
looked for such a close to such a year ! 



164THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

The Carrier expected that Tackleton would pay him an early visit, 
and he was right. He had not walked to and fro before his own door, 
many minutes, when he saw the Toy-merchant coming in his chaise 
along the road. As the chaise drew nearer, he perceived that Tackleton 
was dressed out sprucely, for his marriage : and had decorated his 
horse's head with iiowers and favours. 

The horse looked much more like a Bridegroom than Tackleton, 
whose half-closed eye was more disagreeably expressive than ever. But 
the Carrier took little heed of this. His thoughts had other occupa- 
tion. 

" John Peerybingle ! " said Tackleton, with an air of condolence. 
*' My good fellow, how do you find yourself this morning ? " 

" I have had but a poor night. Master Tackleton," returned the 
Carrier, shaking his head : " for I have been a good deal disturbed in 
my mind. But's it's over now ! Can you spare me half-an-hour or so, 
for some private talk ? " 

" I came on purpose," returned Tackleton, alighting. " Never mind 
the horse. He'll stand quiet enough, with the reins over this post, if 
you'll give him a mouthful of hay." 

The Carrier having brought it from his stable and set it before him, 
they turned into the house. 

" You are not married before noon ? " he said, " I think ? " 

" No," answered Tackleton. " Plenty of time. Plenty of time." 

When they entered the kitchen, Tilly Slowboy was rapping at the 
Stranger's door ; which was only removed from it by a few steps. One 
of her very red eyes (for Tilly had been crying all night long, because 
her mistress cried) was at the keyhole ; and she was knocking very loud ; 
and seemed frightened. 

" If you please I can't make nobody hear," said Tilly, looking round. 
" I hope nobody an't gone and been and died if you please !" 

This philanthropic wish, Miss Slowboy emphasised with various new 
raps and kicks at the door ; which led to no result whatever. 

" Shall I go ? " said Tackleton. " It's curious." 

The Carrier, who had turned his face from the door, signed to him to 
go if he would. 

So Tackleton went to Tilly Slowboy's relief ; and he too kicked and 
knocked ; and he too failed to get the least reply. But he thought of 
trying the handle of the door ; and as it opened easily, he peeped in, 
looked in, went in ; and soon came running out again. 

" John Peerybingle," said Tackleton, in his ear. " I hope there has 
been nothing — nothing rash in the night." 

The Carrier turned upon him quickly. 

" Because he's gone ! " said Tackleton ; " and the window's open. I 
don't see any marks — to be sure it's almost on a level with the garden : 
but I was afraid there might have been some — some scuffle. Eh ? " 

He nearly shut up the expressive eye altogether ; he looked at him so 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 165 

hard. And he gave his eye, and his face, and his whole person, a sharp 
twist. As if he would have screwed the truth out of him. 

" Make yourself easy," said the Carrier. " He went into that room 
last night, without harm in word or deed from me ; and no one has 
entered it since. He is away of his own free will. I'd go out gladly at 
that door, and beg my bread from house to house, for life, if I could so 
change the past that he had never come. But he has come and gone. 
And I have done with him ! " 

" Oh ! — ^Well, I think he has got off pretty easy," said Tackleton 
taking a chair. 

The sneer was lost upon the Carrier, who sat down too : and shaded 
his face with his hand, for some little time, before proceeding. 

" You showed me last night," he said at length, " my wife ; my wife 
that I love ; secretly " 

" And tenderly," insinuated Tackleton. 

" Conniving at that man's disguise and giving him opportunities of 
meeting her alone. I think there's no sight I wouldn't have rather seen 
than that. I think there's no man in the world I wouldn't have rather 
had to show it me." 

" I confess to having had my suspicions always," said Tackleton. 
*' And that has made me objectionable here, I know." 

" But as you did show it me," pursued the Carrier, not minding him ; 
" and as you saw her ; my wife ; my wife that I love " — his voice, and 
eye, and hand, grew steadier and firmer as he repeated these words : 
evidently in pursuance of a steadfast purpose — " as you saw her at this 
disadvantage, it is right and just that you should also see with my eyes 
and look into my breast, and know what my mind is, upon the subject. 
For it's settled," said the Carrier, regarding him attentively. " And 
nothing can shake it now." 

Tackleton muttered a few general words of assent, about its being 
necessary to vindicate something or other ; but he was overawed by the 
manner of his companion. Plain and unpolished as it was, it had a 
something dignified and noble in it, which nothing but the soul of 
generous Honour, dwelling in the man, could have imparted. 

" I am a plain, rough man," pursued the Carrier, " with very little to 
recommend me. I am not a clever man, as you very well know. I am 
not a young man. I loved my little Dot, because I had seen her grow 
up, from a child, in her father's house ; because I knew how precious 
she was ; because she had been my Life, for years and years. There's 
many men I can't compare with, who never could have loved my little 
Dot like me, I think ! " 

He paused, and softly beat the ground a short time with his foot, 
before resuming : 

" I often thought that though I wasn't good enough for her, I should 
make her a kind husband, and perhaps know her value better than 
another ; and in this way I reconciled it to myself, and came to think it 



i66 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

might be possible that we should be married. And in the end, it came 
about, and we were married." 

" Hah ! " said Tackleton, with a significant shake of his head. 

' ' I had studied myself ; I had had experience of myself ; I knew how 
much I loved her, and how happy I should be," pursued the Carrier. 
" But I had not — I feel it now — sufficiently considered her." 

" To be sure," said Tackleton. " Giddiness, frivolity, fickleness, love 
of admiration ! Not considered ! All left out of sight ! Hah ! " 

" You had best not interrupt me," said the Carrier, with some 
sternness, " till you understand me ; and you're wide of doing so. If, 
yesterday, I'd have struck that man down at a blow, who dared to 
breathe a word against her ; to-day I'd set my foot upon his face, if he 
was my brother ! " 

The Toy-merchant gazed at him in astonishment. He went on in a 
softer tone : 

" Did I consider," said the Carrier, " that I took her ; at her age, and 
with her beauty ; from her young companions, and the many scenes of 
which she was the ornament ; in which she was the brightest little star 
that ever shone ; to shut her up from day to day in my dull house, and 
keep my tedious company .? Did I consider how little suited I was to 
her sprightly humour, and how wearisome a plodding man like me m.ust 
be, to one of her quick spirit ; did I consider that it was no merit in me 
or claim in me, that I loved her, when everybody must, who knew her ? 
Never. I took advantage of her hopeful nature and her cheerful 
disposition ; and I married her. I wish I never had ! For her sake ; 
not for mine ! " 

The Toy-merchant gazed at him, without winking. Even the half- 
shut eye was open now. 

" Heaven bless her ! " said the Carrier, " for the cheerful constancy 
with which she tried to keep the knowledge of this from me ! And 
Heaven help me, that, in my slow mind, I have not found it out before ! 
Poor child ! Poor Dot ! / not to find it out, who have seen her eyes 
fill with tears, when such a marriage as our own was spoken of ! I, who 
have seen the secret trembHng on her lips a hundred times, and never 
suspected it, till last night ! Poor girl ! That I could ever hope she 
would be fond of me ! That I could ever believe she was ! " 

" She made a show of it," said Tackleton. " She made such a show 
of it, that to tell you the truth it was the origin of my misgivings." 

And here he asserted the superiority of May Fielding, who certainly 
made no sort of show of being fond of him. 

" She has tried," said the poor Carrier, with greater emotion than he 
had exhibited yet ; " I only now begin to know how hard she has tried ; 
to be my dutiful and zealous wife. How good she has been ; how much 
she has done ; how brave and strong a heart she has ; let the happiness 
I have known under this roof bear witness ! It will be some help and 
comfort to me, when I am here alone." 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 167 

" Here alone ? " said Tackleton. " Oh ! Then you do mean to take 
some notice of this ? " 

" I mean," returned the Carrier, " to do her the greatest kindness, and 
make her the best reparation, in my power. I can release her from the 
daily pain of an unequal marriage, and the struggle to conceal it. She 
shall be as free as I can render her." 

" Make her reparation ! " exclaimed Tackleton, twisting and turning 
his great ears with his hands. " There must be something wrong here. 
You didn't say that, of course." 

The Carrier set his grip upon the collar of the Toy-merchant, and 
shook him like a reed. 

" Listen to me ! " he said. " And take care that you hear me right. 
Listen to me. Do I speak plainly .'' " 

" Very plainly indeed," answered Tackleton. 
" As if I meant it ? " 
" Very much as if you meant it." 

" I sat upon that hearth, last night, all night," exclaimed the Carrier. 
" On the spot where she has often sat beside me, with her sweet face 
looking into mine. I called up her whole Hfe, day by day ; I had her 
dear self, in its every passage, in review before me. And upon my soul 
she is innocent, if there is One to judge the innocent and guilty ! " 
Staunch Cricket on the Hearth ! Loyal household Fairies ! 
*' Passion and distrust have left me ! " said the Carrier ; " and nothing 
but my grief remains. In an unhappy moment some old lover, better 
suited to her tastes and years than I ; forsaken, perhaps, for me, against 
her will ; returned. In an unhappy moment : taken by surprise, and 
wanting time to think of what she did : she made herself a party to his 
treachery, by concealing it. Last night she saw him, in the interviev/ 
we witnessed. It was wrong. But otherwise than this, she is innocent 
if there is Truth on earth ! " 

" If that is your opinion " Tackleton began. 

" So, let her go ! " pursued the Carrier, " Go, with my blessing for 
the many happy hours she has given me, and my forgiveness for any pang 
she has caused me. Let her go, and have the peace of mind I wish her ! 
She'll never hate me. She'll learn to like me better, when I'm not a 
drag upon her, and she wears the chain I have riveted, more lightly. 
This is the day on which I took her, with so httle thought for her 
enjoyment, from her home. To-day she shall return to it ; and I will 
trouble her no more. Her father and mother will be here to-day — we 
had made a little plan for keeping it together — and they shall take her 
home. I can trust her, there, or anywhere. She leaves me without 
blame, and she will live so I am sure. If I should die — I may perhaps 
while she is still young ; I have lost some courage in a few hours — she'll 
find that I remembered her, and loved her to the last ! This is the end 
of what you showed me. Now, it's over ! " 

" O no, John, not over. Do not say it's over yet ! Not quite yet. 



i68 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

I have heard your noble words. I could not steal away, pretending to 
be ignorant of what has affected me with such deep gratitude. Do not 
say it's over, 'till the clock has struck again ! " 

She had entered shortly after Tackleton ; and had remained there. 
She never looked at Tackleton, but fixed her eyes upon her husband. But 
she kept away from him, setting as wide a space as possible between them ; 
and though she spoke with most impassioned earnestness, she went no 
nearer to him even then. How different in this, from her old self ! 

" No hand can make the clock which wiU strike again for me the hours 
that are gone," repHed the Carrier, with a faint smile. " But let it be 
so, if you will, my dear. It will strike soon. It's of little matter what 
we say. I'd try to please you in a harder case than that." 

" Well ! " muttered Tackleton. " I must be off, for when the clock 
strikes again, it'll be necessary for me to be upon my way to church. 
Good morning, John Peerybingle, I'm sorry to be deprived of the 
pleasure of your company. Sorry for the loss, and the occasion of it 
too ! " 

" I have spoken plainly .? " said the Carrier, accompanying him to the 
door. 

" Oh quite ! " 

" And you'll remember what I have said ? " 

" Why, if you compel me to make the observation," said Tackleton ; 
previously taking the precaution of getting into his chaise ; " I must say 
that it was so very unexpected, that I'm far from being likely to forget it." 

" The better for us both," returned the Carrier. " Good-bye. I 
give you joy ! " 

" I wash I could give it to yoM," said Tackleton. " As I can't ; 
thank'ee. Between ourselves (as I told you before, eh .?) I don't much 
think I shall have the less joy in my married life, because May hasn't 
been too officious about me, and too demonstrative. Good-bye ! Take 
care of yourself." 

The Carrier stood looking after him until he was smaller in the 
distance than his horse's flowers and favours near at hand ; and then, 
with a deep sigh, went strolling like a restless, broken man, among some 
neighbouring elms ; unwilling to return until the clock was on the eve 
of striking. 

His little wife being left alone, sobbed piteously ; but often dried 
her eyes and checked herself, to say how good he was, how excellent he 
was ! and once or twice she laughed ; so heartily, triumphantly, and 
incoherently (still crying all the time), that Tilly was quite horrified. 

" Ow if you please don't ! " said Tilly. " It's enough to dead and 
bury the Baby, so it is if you please." 

" Will you bring him sometimes, to see his father, Tilly," inquired her 
mistress ; drying her eyes ; " when I can't live here, and have gone to 
my old home ? " 

" Ow if you please don't ! " cried Tilly, throwing back her head, and 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 169 

bursting out into a howl ; she looked at the moment uncommonly like 
Boxer ; " Ow if you please don't ! Ow, what has everybody gone and 
been and done with everybody, making everybody else so wretched ! 
Ow-w-w-w ! " 

The soft-hearted Slowboy trailed off at this juncture, into such a 
deplorable howl : the more tremendous from its long suppression : that 
she must infallibly have awakened the Baby, and frightened him into 
something serious (probably convulsions), if her eyes had not encountered 
Caleb Plummer, leading in his daughter. This spectacle restoring her 
to a sense of the proprieties, she stood for some few moments silent, with 
her mouth wide open : and then, posting off to the bed on which the 
Baby lay asleep, danced in a weird. Saint Vitus manner on the floor, and 
at the same time rummaged with her face and head among the bed- 
clothes : apparently deriving much relief from those extraordinary 
operations. 

" Mary ! " said Bertha. " Not at the marriage ! " 

" I told her you would not be there, mum," whispered Caleb. " I 
heard as much last night. But bless you," said the little man, taking 
her tenderly by both hands, " / don't care for what they say ; / don't 
beheve them. There ain't much of me, but that Httle should be torn 
to pieces sooner than I'd trust a word against you ! " 

He put his arms about her neck and hugged her, as a child might have 
hugged one of his own dolls. 

" Bertha couldn't stay at home this morning," said Caleb. " She was 
afraid, I know, to hear the Bells ring : and couldn't trust herself to be 
so near them on their wedding-day. So we started in good time, and 
came here. I have been thinking of what I have done," said Caleb, after 
a moment's pause ; " I have been blaming myself till I hardly knew 
what to do or where to turn, for the distress of mind I have caused her ; 
and I've come to the conclusion that I'd better, if you'll stay with me, 
mum, the while, tell her the truth. You'll stay with me the while ? " 
he inquired, trembhng from head to foot. " I don't know what effect 
it may have upon her ; I don't know what she'll think of me ; I don't 
know that she'll ever care for her poor father afterwards. But it's best 
for her that she should be undeceived ; and I must bear the consequences, 
as I deserve ! " 

" Mary," said Bertha, " where is your hand ! Ah ! Here it is ; 
here it is ! " pressing it to her hps, with a smile, and drawing it through 
her arm. " I heard them speaking softly among themselves, last night, 
of some blame against you. They were wrong." 

The Carrier's Wife was silent. Caleb answered for her. 

" They were wrong," he said. 

" I knew it ! " cried Bertha, proudly. " I told them so. I scorned 
to hear a word ! Blame her with justice ! " she pressed the hand 
between her own, and the soft cheek against her face. " No ! I am not 
so Bhnd as that." 

CC. F 



170 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

Her father went on one side of her, while Dot remained upon the 
other : holding her hand. 

" I know you all," said Bertha, " better than yuu think. But none so 
well as her. Not even you, father. There is nothing half so real and 
so true about me, as she is. If I could be restored to sight this instant, 
and not a word were spoken, I could choose her from a crowd ! My 
sister ! " 

" Bertha, my dear ! " said Caleb, " I have something on my mind I 
want to tell you, while we three are alone. Hear me kindly ! I have a 
confession to make to you, my Darhng." 
" A confession, father .? " 

" I have wandered from the Truth and lost myself, my child," said Caleb, 
with a pitiable expression in his bewildered face. " I have wandered 
from the Truth, intending to be kind to you ; and have been cruel." 

She turned her wonder-stricken face towards him, and repeated 
" Cruel ! " 

*' He accuses himself too strongly. Bertha," said Dot. " You'll say so, 
presently. You'll be the first to tell him so." 

" He cruel to me ! " cried Bertha, with a smile of incredulity. 
" Not meaning it, my child," said Caleb. " But I have been, 
though I never suspected it, till yesterday. My dear BHnd Daughter, 
hear me and forgive me ! The world you live in, heart of mine, doesn't 
exist as I have represented it. The eyes you have trusted in, have been 
false to you." 

She turned her wonder-stricken face towards him still ; but drew back, 
and clung closer to her friend. 

" Your road in life was rough, my poor one," said Caleb, " and I meant 
to smooth it for you. I have altered objects, changed the characters of 
people, invented many things that never have been, to make you happier. 
I have had concealments from you, put deceptions on you, God forgive 
me ! and surrounded you with fancies." 

" But living people are not fancies ? " she said hurriedly, and turning 
very pale, and still retiring from him. " You can't change them." 
" I have done so, Bertha," pleaded Caleb. " There is one person 

that you know, my Dove " 

" Oh father ! why do you say, I know .? " she answered, in a tone of 
keen reproach. " What and whom do / know ! I who have no leader ! 
I so miserably blind ! " 

In the anguish of her heart, she stretched out her hands, as if she were 
groping her way ; then spread them, in a manner most forlorn and sad, 
upon her face. 

" The marriage that takes place to-day," said Caleb, " is with a stern, 
sordid, grinding man. A hard master to you and me, my dear, for many 
years. Ugly in his looks, and in his nature. Cold and callous always. 
Unlike what I have painted him to you in everything, my child. In 
everything." 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 171 

" Oh why," cried the Blind Girl, tortured, as it seemed, almost 
beyond endurance, " why did you ever do this ! Why did you ever fill 
my heart so full, and then come in like Death, and tear away the objects 
of my love ! Oh Heaven, how bhnd I am ! How helpless and alone ! " 
Her afflicted father hung his head, and offered no reply but in his 
penitence and sorrow. 

She had been but a short time in this passion of regret, when the 
Cricket on the Hearth, unheard by all but her, began to chirp. Not 
merrily, but in a low, faint, sorrowing way. It was so mournful, that 
her tears began to flow ; and when the Presence which had been beside 
the Carrier all night, appeared behind her, pointing to her father, they 
fell down hke rain. 

She heard the Cricket-voice more plainly soon ; and was conscious, 
through her blindness, of the Presence hovering about her father. 

" Mary," said the Bhnd Girl, " tell me what my home is. What it 
truly is." 

" It is a poor place, Bertha ; very poor and bare indeed. The house 
will scarcely keep out wind and rain another winter. It is as roughly 
shielded from the weather. Bertha," Dot continued in a low, clear voice, 
" as your poor father in his sackcloth coat." 

The Blind Girl, greatly agitated, rose, and led the Carrier's httle 
wife aside. 

" Those presents that I took such care of ; that came almost at my 
wish, and were so dearly welcome to me," she said, trembhng ; " where 
did they come from ? Did you send them ? " 
" No." 

" Who then ? " 

Dot saw she knew, already ; and was silent. The Blind Girl spread 
her hands before her face again. But in quite another manner now. 

" Dear Mary, a moment. One moment ! More this way. Speak 
softly to me. You are true, I know. You'd not deceive me now ; 
would you } " 

" No, Bertha, indeed ! " 

" No, I am sure you would not. You have too much pity for me. 
Mary, look across the room to where we were just now ; to where my 
father is — my father, so compassionate and loving to me — and tell me 
what you see." 

" I see," said Dot, who understood her well ; " an old man sitting ^ 
a chair, and leaning sorrowfully on the back, with, his face resting on nis 
hand. As if his child should comfort him, Bertha." 
" Yes, yes. She will. Go on." 

" He is an old man, worn with care and work. He is a spare, dejected, 
thoughtful, grey-haired man. I see him now, despondent and bowed 
down, and striving against nothing. But, Bertha, I have seen him many 
times before ; and striving hard in many ways for one great sacred 
object. And I honour his grey head, and bless him ! " 



172 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

The Blind Girl broke away from her ; and throwing herself upon her 
knees before him, took the grey head to her breast. 

" It is my sight restored. It is my sight ! " she cried. " I have been 
blind, and now my eyes are open. I never knew him ! To think I 
might have died, and never truly seen the father, who has been so loving 
to me ! " 

There were no words for Caleb's emotion. 

" There is not a gallant figure on this earth," exclaimed the Bhnd 
Girl, holding him in her embrace, " that I would love so dearly, and 
would cherish so devotedly, as this ! The greyer, and more worn, the 
dearer, father ! Never let them say I am bhnd again. There's not a 
furrow in his face, there's not a hair upon his head, that shall be for- 
gotten in my prayers and thanks to Heaven ! " 

Caleb managed to articulate " My Bertha ! " 

" And in my Blindness, I believed him," said the girl, caressing him 
with tears oj. exquisite affection, " to be so different ! And having 
him beside me, day by day, so mindful of me always, never dreamed of 
this ! " 

" The fresh smart father in the blue coat. Bertha," said poor Caleb. 
" He's gone ! " 

" Nothing is gone," she answered. " Dearest father, no ! Every- 
thing is here — in you. The father that I loved so well ; the father 
that I never loved enough, and never knew ; the Benefactor whom I first 
began to reverence and love, because he had such sympathy for me ; All 
are here in you. Nothing is dead to me. The Soul of all that was most 
dear to me is here — here, with the worn face, and the grey head. And 
I am NOT blind, father, any longer ! " 

Dot's whole attention had been concentrated, during this discourse, 
upon the father and daughter ; but looking, now, towards the little 
Haymaker in the Moorish meadow, she saw that the clock was within a 
few minutes of striking ; and fell, immediately, into a nervous and 
excited state. 

" Father," said Bertha, hesitating. " Mary." 

" Yes, my dear," returned Caleb. " Here she is." 

" There is no change in her. You never told me anything of her that 
was not true ? " 

" I should have done it, my dear, I am afraid," returned Caleb, " if I 
could have made her better than she was. But I must have changed her 
for the worse, if I had changed her at all. Nothing could improve her. 
Bertha." 

Confident as the Blind Girl had been when she asked the question, her 
delight and pride in the reply, and her renewed embrace of Dot, were 
charming to behold. 

" More changes than you think for, may happen though, my dear," 
said Dot. " Changes for the better, I mean ; changes for great joy to 
some of us. You mustn't let them startle you too much, if any such 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 173 

should ever happen, and affect you ! Are those wheels upon the road ? 
You've a quick ear, Bertha. Are they wheels ? " 

" Yes. Coming very fast." 

" I — I — know you have a quick ear," said Dot, placing her hand upon 
her heart, and evidently talking on, as fast as she could to hide its 
palpitating state, " because I have noticed it often, and because you were 
so quick to find out that strange step last night. Though why you 
should have said, as I very well recollect you did say, Bertha, * Whose 
step is that ! ' and why you should have taken any greater observation of 
it than of any other step, I don't know. Though as I said just now, there 
are great changes in the world : great changes : and we can't do better 
than prepare ourselves to be surprised at hardly anything." 

Caleb wondered what this meant ; perceiving that she spoke to him, 
no less than to his daughter. He saw her, with astonishment, so 
fluttered and distressed that she could scarcely breathe ; and holding to 
a chair, to save herself from falling. 

" They are wheels indeed ! " she panted. " Coming nearer : Nearer ! 
Very close ! And now you hear them [stopping at the garden gate ! 
And now you hear a step outside the door — the same step. Bertha, is it 
not ! — and now ! " — 

She uttered a wild cry of uncontrollable delight ; and running up to 
Caleb put her hands upon his eyes, as a young man rushed into the room, 
and flinging away his hat into the air, came sweeping down upon them. 

" Is it over ? " cried Dot. 

" Yes ! " 

" Happily over ? " 

" Yes ! " 

" Do you recollect the voice, dear Caleb ? Did you ever hear the like 
of it before ? " cried Dot. 

" If my boy in the Golden South Americas was alive " — said Caleb, 
trembling. 

" He is alive ! " shrieked Dot, removing her hands from his eyes, and 
clapping them in ecstasy ; " look at him ! See where he stands before 
you, healthy and strong ! Your own dear son ! Your own dear living, 
loving brother. Bertha ! " 

All honour to the little creature for her transports ! All honour to 
her tears and laughter, when the three were locked in one another's 
arms ' iVll honour to the heartiness with which she met the sunburnt 
sailor-fellow, with his dark streaming hair, half way, and never turned 
her rosy little mouth aside, but suffered him to kiss it, freely, and to press 
her to his bounding heart ! 

And honour to the Cuckoo too — ^why not ! — for bursting out of the 
trap-door in tflc Moorish Palace like a housebreaker, and hiccoughing 
twelve times on the assembled company, as if he had got drunk for joy ! 

The Carrier, entering, started back : and well he might : to find 
himself in such good company. 



174 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

frnl^rV u"" ' r '"^ F'^'^' exultingly, " look here ! My own boy 
from the Golden South Americas ! Mv own son ! Him that you fitted 
out, and sent away yourself ; him that you were always such a friend to ' " 
1 he Carrier advanced to seize him by the hand; but recoiling, as some 
teature m his face awakened a remembrance of the Deaf Man in the cart 
said I 

" Edward ! Was it you ? " 

" Now tell him all : » cried Dot. " Tell him all, Edward ; and don't 
spare me, for nothing shall make me spare myself in his eyes, ever again " 

II I was the man," said Edward. ^ ' 

"And could you steal, disguised, into the house of your old friend ? " 
rejoined the Carrier. " There was a frank boy once-how many years 
IS It, Caleb, since we heard that he was dead, and had it proved we 
thought .?— who never would have done that." 

/' There was a generous friend of mine, once : more a father to me 
than a friend ! said Edward, " who never would have judged me or 
any other man, unheard. You were he. So I am certain you will hear 
me now. "^ 

The Carrier, with a troubled glance at Dot, who still kept far away 
from him, replied, " Well ! that's but fair. I will." 
_ " You must know that when I left here, a boy," said Edward, " I was 
m love : and my love was returned. She was a very young girl who 
perhaps (you may tell me) didn't know her own mind. But I 'knew 
mine ; and I had a passion for her." 

" You had ! " exclaimed the Carrier. " You ! " 

" Indeed I had," returned the other. " And she returned it I have 
ever since believed she did ; and now I am sure she did." 

II Heaven help me ! " said the Carrier. " This is worse than all " 
Constant to her," said Edward, " and returning, full of hope, after 
many hardships and perils, to redeem my part of our old contract I 
heard, twenty miles away, that she was false to me ; that she had 
forgotten me ; and had bestowed herself upon another and a richer man 
1 had no mmd to reproach her ; but I wished to see her, and to prove 
beyond dispute that this was true. I hoped she might have been forced 
mto it, against her own desire and recollection. It would be small 
comfort, but it would be some, I thought : and on I came That I 
might have the truth, the real truth ; observing freely for myself, and 
judging for myself, without obstruction on the one hand, or presenting 
my own influence (if I had any) before her, on the other ; I dressed 
myself unlike myself— you know how ; and waited on the road— you 
know where. You had no suspicion of me ; neither had— had she " 
pointing to Dot, " until I whispered in her ear at that fireside, and she so 
nearly betrayed me." 

Tu^^^rx^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ Edward was alive, and had come back," 
sobbed Dot, now speaking for herself, as she had burned to do, all through 
this narrative ; " and when she knew his purpose, she advised him by all 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 175 

means to keep his secret close ; for his old friend John Peerybingle was 
much too open in his nature, and too clumsy in all artifice — being a 
clumsy man in general," said Dot, half laughing and half crying — " to 
keep it for him. And when she — that's me, John," sobbed the little 
woman — " told him all, and how his sweetheart had believed him to be 
dead ; and how she had at last been over-persuaded by her mother into a 
marriage which the silly, dear old thing called advantageous ; and when 
she — that's me again, John — told him they were not yet married (though 
close upon it), and that it would be nothing but a sacrifice if it went on, 
for there was no love on her side ; and when he went nearly mad with 
joy to hear it ; then she — that's me again — said she would go between 
them, as she had often done before in old times, John, and would sound 
his sweetheart and be sure that what she — me again, John — said and 
thought was right. And it was right, John ! And they were brought 
together, John ! And they were married, John, an hour ago ! And 
here's the Bride ! And Gruff and Tackleton may die a bachelor ! And 
I'm a happy little woman, May, God bless you ! " 

She was an irresistible little woman, if that be anything to the purpose ; 
and never so completely irresistible as in her present transports. There 
never were congratulations so endearing and delicious, as those she 
lavished on herself and on the Bride. 

Amid the tumult of emotions in his breast, the honest Carrier had 
stood, confounded. Flying, now, towards her. Dot stretched out her 
hand to stop him, and retreated as before. 

" No, John, no ! Hear all : Don't love me any more, John, till 
you've heard every word I have to say. It was wrong to have a secret 
from you, John. I'm very sorry. I didn't think it any harm, till I came 
and sat down by you on the little stool last night ; but when I knew by 
what was written in your face, that you had seen me walking in the 
gallery with Edward, and knew what you thought ; I felt how giddy and 
how wrong it was. But oh, dear John, how could you, could you, 
think so ! " 

Little woman, how she sobbed again ! John Peerybingle would have 
caught her in his arms. But no ; she wouldn't let him. 

" Don't love me yet, please John ! Not for a long time yet ! When 
I was sad about this intended marriage, dear, it was because I remembered 
May and Edward such young lovers ; and knew that her heart was far 
away from Tackleton. You believe that, now. Don't you, John ? " 

John was going to make another rush at this appeal ; but she stopped 
him again. 

" No ; keep there, please, John : When I laugh at you, as I sometimes 
do, John ; and call you clumsy, and a dear old goose, and names of that 
sort, it's because I love you John, so well ; and take such pleasure in your 
ways ; and wouldn't see you altered in the least respect to have you made 
a King to-morrow." 
" Hooroar ! " said Caleb with unusual vigour. " My opinion ! " 



176 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

" And when I speak of people being middle-aged, and steady, John, 
and pretend that we are a humdrum couple, going on in a jog-trot sort of 
way, it's only because I'm such a silly little thing, John, that I like, 
sometimes, to act a kind of Play with Baby, and all that : and make 
believe." 

She saw that he was coming ; and stopped him again. But she was 
very nearly too late. 

" No, don't love me for another minute or two, if you please, John. 
What I want most to tell you, I have kept to the last. My dear, good, 
generous John ; when we were talking the other night about the Cricket, 
I had it on my lips to say, that at first I did not love you quite so dearly as 
I do now ; that when I first came home here, I was half afraid I mightn't 
learn to love you every bit as well as I hoped and prayed I might — being 
so very young, John. But, dear John, every day and hour, I loved you 
more and more. And if I could have loved you better than I do, the 
noble words I heard you say this morning, would have made me. But I 
can't. All the affection that I had (it was a great deal, John) I gave you, 
as you well deserve, long, long ago, and I have no more left to give. Now, 
my dear Husband, take me to your heart again ! That's my home, 
John ; and never, never think of sending me to any other ! " 

You never will derive so much delight from seeing a glorious little 
woman in the arms of a third party, as you would have felt if you had 
seen Dot run into the Carrier's embrace. It was the most complete, 
unmitigated, soul-fraught little piece of earnestness that ever you beheld 
in all your days. 

You may be sure the Carrier was in a state of perfect rapture ; and you 
may be sure Dot was likewise ; and you may be sure they all were, 
inclusive of Miss Slowboy, who cried copiously for joy, and, wishing to 
include her young charge in the general interchange of congratulations, 
handed round the Baby to everybody in succession, as if it were some- 
thing to drink. 

But now the sound of wheels was heard again outside the door ; and 
somebody exclaimed that Gruff and Tackleton was coming back. 
Speedily that worthy gentleman appeared : looking warm and flustered. 
" Why, what the Devil's this, John Peerybingle ! " said Tackleton. 
" There's some mistake, I appointed Mrs, Tackleton to meet me at the 
church ; and I'll swear I passed her on the road, on her way here. Oh ! 
here she is : I beg your pardon, sir ; I haven't the pleasure of knowing 
you ; but if you can do me the favour to spare this young lady, she has 
rather a particular engagement this morning." 

" But I can't spare her," returned Edward. " I couldn't think of it." 
" What do you mean, you vagabond ? " said Tackleton. 
" I mean, that as I can make allowance for your being vexed," returned 
the other, with a smile, " I am as deaf to harsh discourse this morning, as 
I was to all discourse last night." 
The look that Tacl^leton bestowed upon him, and the start he gave ! 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 177 

" I am sorry, sir," said Edward, holding out May's left hand, and 
especially the third finger ; " that the young lady can't accompany you 
to church ; but as she has been there once, this morning, perhaps you'll 
excuse her." 

Tackleton looked hard at the third finger ; and took a little piece 
of silver paper, apparently containing a ring, from his waistcoat 
pocket. 

" Miss Slowboy," said Tackleton. " Will you have the kindness to 
throw that in the fire ? Thank'ee." 

" It was a previous engagement : quite an old engagement : that 
prevented my wife from keeping her appointment with you, I assure 
you," said Edward. 

" Mr. Tackleton will do me the justice to acknowledge that I revealed 
it to him faithfully ; and that I told him, many times, I never could 
forget it," said May, blushing. 

" Oh certainly ! " said Tackleton. " Oh to be sure. Oh it's all right. 
It's quite correct. Mrs. Edward Plummer, I infer ? " 
" That's the name," returned the bridegroom. 

" Ah, I shouldn't have known you, sir," said Tackleton : scrutinising 
his face narrowly, and making a low bow. " I give you joy, sir ! " 
" Thank'ee." 

" Mrs. Peerybingle," said Tackleton, turning suddenly to where she 
stood with her husband ; " I am sorry. You haven't done me a very 
great kindness, but, upon my life I am sorry. You are better than I 
thought you. John Peerybingle, I am sorry. You understand me ; 
that's enough. It's quite correct, ladies and gentlemen all, and perfectly 
satisfactory. Good morning ! " 

With these words he carried it off, and carried himself off too : merely 
stopping at the door, to take the flowers and favours from his horse's head, 
and to kick that animal once in the ribs, as a means of informing him that 
there was a screw loose in his arrangements. 

Of course it became a serious duty now, to make such a day of it, as 
should mark these events for a high Feast and Festival in the Peerybingle 
Calendar for evermore. Accordingly, Dot went to work to produce such 
an entertainment, as should reflect undying honour on the house and 
every one concerned ; and in a very short space of time, she was up to her 
dimpled elbows in flour, and whitening the Carrier's coat, every time he 
came near her, by stopping him to give him a kiss. That good fellowwashed 
the greens, and peeled the turnips, and broke the plates, and upset iron 
pots full of cold water on the fire, and made himself useful in all sorts of 
ways : while a couple of professional assistants, hastily called in from 
somewhere in the neighbourhood, as on a point of life or death, ran 
against each other in all the doorways and round all the corners ; and 
everybody tumbled over Tilly Slowboy and the Baby, everywhere. Tilly 
never came out in such force before. Her ubiquity was the theme of 
general admiration. She was a stumbling-block in the passage at five- 



178 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

and-twenty minutes past two ; a man-trap in the kitchen at half-past 
two precisely ; and a pitfall in the garret at five-and-twenty minutes to 
three. The Baby's head was, as it were, a test and touchstone for every 
description of matter, animal, vegetable, and mineral. Nothing was in 
use that day that didn't come, at some time or other, into close acquaint- 
ance with it. 

Then, there was a great Expedition set on foot to go and find out 
Mrs. Fielding ; and to be dismally penitent to that excellent gentle- 
woman ; and to bring her back, by force if needful, to be happy and 
forgiving. And when the Expedition first discovered her, she would 
listen to no terms at all, but said, an unspeakable number of times, that 
ever she should have lived to see the day ! and couldn't be got to say 
anything else, except " Now carry me to the grave ; " which seemed 
absurd, on account of her not being dead, or anything at all like it. After 
a time, she lapsed into a state of dreadful calmness, and observed, that 
when that unfortunate train of circumstances had occurred in the Indigo 
Trade, she had foreseen that she would be exposed, during her whole life, 
to every species of insult and contumely ; and that she was glad to find it 
was the case ; and begged they wouldn't trouble themselves about her, — 
for what was she ? oh, dear ! a nobody ! — but would forget that such a 
being lived, and would take their course in life without her. From this 
bitterly sarcastic mood, she passed into an angry one, in which she gave 
vent to the remarkable expression that the worm would turn if trodden 
on ; and after that, she yielded to a soft regret, and said, if they had only 
given her their confidence, what might she not have had it in her power 
to suggest ! Taking advantage of this crisis in her feelings, the Expedi- 
tion embraced her ; and she very soon had her gloves on, and was on her 
way to John Peerybingle's in a state of unimpeachable gentility ; with a 
paper parcel at her side containing a cap of state, almost as tall, and quite 
as stiff, as a mitre. 

Then, there were Dot's father and mother to come, in another little 
chaise ; and they were behind their time ; and fears were entertained ; 
and there was much looking out for them down the road ; and Mrs. 
Fielding always would look in the wrong and morally impossible direc- 
tion ; and being apprised thereof, hoped she might take the liberty of 
looking where she pleased. At last they came : a chubby little couple, 
jogging along in a snug and comfortable little way that quite belonged to 
the Dot family : and Dot and her mother, side by side, were wonderful 
to see. They were so like each other. 

Then, Dot's mother had to renew her acquaintance with May's 
mother ; and May's mother always stood on her gentility ; and Dot's 
mother never stood on anything but her active little feet. And old Dot : 
so to call Dot's father, I forgot it wasn't his right name, but never mind : 
took liberties, and shook hands at first sight, and seemed to think a cap 
but so much starch and muslin, and didn't defer himself at all to the 
Indigo Trade, but said there was no help for it now; and, in Mrs. 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 179 

Fielding's summing up, was a good-natured kind of man — but coarse, 
my dear. 

I wouldn't have missed Dot, doing the honours in her wedding-gown : 
my benison on her bright face ! for any money. No ! nor the good 
Carrier, so jovial and so ruddy, at the bottom of the table. Nor the 
brown, fresh sailor-fellow, and his handsome wife. Nor any one among 
them. To have missed the dinner would have been to miss as jolly and 
as stout a meal as man need eat ; and to have missed the overflowing cups 
in which they drank The Wedding-Day, would have been the greatest 
miss of all. 

After dinner, Caleb sang the song about the Sparkling Bowl ! As 
I'm a living man : hoping to keep so, for a year or two : he sang it 
through. 

And, by the bye, a most unlooked-for incident occurred, just as he 
finished the last verse. 

There was a tap at the door ; and a man came staggering in, without 
saying with your leave, or by your leave, with something heavy on his 
head. Setting this down in the middle of the table, symmetrically in the 
centre of the nuts and apples, he said : 

" Mr. Tackleton's compliments, and as he hasn't got no use for the 
cake himself, p'raps you'll eat it." 

And with those words, he walked off. 

There was some surprise among the company, as you may imagine. 
Mrs. Fielding, being a lady of infinite discernment, suggested that the 
cake was poisoned, and related a narrative of a cake, which, within her 
knowledge, had turned a seminary for young ladies, blue. But she was 
overruled by acclamation ; and the cake was cut by May, with much 
ceremony and rejoicing. 

I don't think any one had tasted it, when there came another tap at 
the door, and the same man appeared again, having under his arm a vast 
brown-paper parcel, 

" Mr. Tackleton's compliments, and he's sent a few toys for the Babby. 
They ain't ugly." 

After the delivery of which expressions, he retired again. 

The whole party would have experienced great difficulty in finding 
words for their astonishment, even if they had had ample time to seek 
them. But they had none at all ; for the messenger had scarcely shut 
the door behind him, when there came another tap, and Tackleton 
himself W&lked in. 

" Mrs. Peerybingle ! " said the Toy-merchant, hat in hand. " I'm 
sorry. I'm more sorry than I was this morning. I have had time to 
think of it. John Peerybingle ! I'm sour by disposition ; but I can't 
help being sweetened, more or less, by coming face to face with such a 
man as you. Caleb ! This unconscious little nurse gave me a broken 
hint last night, of which I have found the thread. I blush to think how 
easily I might have bound you and your daughter to me ; and what a 



i8o THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

miserable idiot I was, when I took her for one ! Friends, one and all, my 
house is very lonely to-night. I have not so much as a Cricket on my 
Hearth. I have scared them all away. Be gracious to me ; let me join 
this happy party ! " 

He was at home in five minutes. You never saw such a fellow. What 
had he been doing with himself all his life, never to have known, before, 
his great capacity of being jovial ! Or what had the Fairies been doing 
with him, to have effected such a change ! 

" John ! you won't send me home this evening ; will you ? " whispered 
Dot. 

He had been very near it though ! 

There wanted but one living creature to make the party complete ; 
and, in the twinkling of an eye, there he was : very thirsty with hard 
running, and engaged in hopeless endeavours to squeeze his head into a 
narrow pitcher. He had gone with the cart to its journey's end, very much 
disgusted with the absence of his master, and stupendously rebellious 
to the Deputy. After lingering about the stable for some little time, 
vainly attempting to incite the old horse to the mutinous act of returning 
on his own account, he had walked into the tap-room and laid himself 
down before the fire. But suddenly yielding to the conviction that the 
Deputy was a humbug, and must be abandoned, he had got up again, 
turned tail, and come home. 

There was a dance in the evening. With which general mention of 
that recreation, I should have left it alone, if I had not some reason to 
suppose that it was quite an original dance, and one of a most uncommon 
figure. It was formed in an odd way ; in this way. 

Edward, that sailor-fellow — a good free dashing sort of a fellow he 
was — had been telling them various marvels concerning parrots, and 
mines, and Mexicans, and gold dust, when all at once he took it in his 
head to jump up from his seat and propose a dance ; for Bertha's harp 
was there, and she had such a hand upon it as you seldom hear. Dot (sly 
little piece of afitectation when she chose) said her dancing days were 
over ; / think because the Carrier was smoking his pipe, and she liked 
sitting by him, best. Mrs. Fielding had no choice, of course, but to say 
her dancing days were over, after that ; and everybody said the same, 
except May ; May was ready. 

So May and Edward get up, amid great applause, to dance alone ; and 
Bertha plays her liveliest tune. 

Well ! if you'll believe me, they have not been dancing fiv^ minutes, 
when suddenly the Carrier flings his pipe away, takes Dot round the 
waist, dashes out into the room, and starts oflF with her, toe and heel, 
quite wonderfully. Tackleton no sooner sees this, than he skims across 
to Mrs. Fielding, takes her round the waist, and follows suit. Old Dot 
no sooner sees this, than up he is, all alive, whisks off Mrs. Dot in the 
middle of the dance, and is the foremost there. Caleb no sooner sees 
this, than he clutches Tilly Slowboy by both hands and goes off at score ; 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE i8i 

Miss Slowboy, firm in the belief that diving hotly in among the other 
couples, and effecting any number of concussions with them, is your only 
principle of footing it. 

Hark ! how the Cricket joins the music with its Chirp, Chirp, Chirp, 
and how the Kettle hums ! 

But what is this ! Even as I listen to them, blithely, and turn towards 
Dot, for one last glimpse of a little figure very pleasant to me, she and the 
rest have vanished into air, and I am left alone. A Cricket sings upon 
the Hearth ; a broken child's-toy lies upon the ground ; and nothing 
else remains. 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE: A LOVE S^ORT 



PART THE FIRST 

Once upon a time, it matters little when, and in stalwart England, it 
matters little where, a fierce battle was fought. It was fought upon a 
long summer day when the waving grass was green. Many a wild flower 
formed by the Almighty Hand to be a perfumed goblet for the dew, felt 
its enamelled cup fill high with blood that day, and shrinking dropped. 
Many an insect deriving its deHcate colour from harmless leaves and herbs, 
was stained anew that day by dying men, and marked its frightened way 
with an unnatural track. The painted butterfly took blood into the air 
upon the edges of its wings. The stream ran red. The trodden ground 
became a quagmire, whence, from sullen pools collected in the prints of 
human feet and horses' hoofs, the one prevailing hue still lowered and 
ghmmered at the sun. 

Heaven keep us from a knowledge of the sights the moon beheld upon 
that field, when, coming up above the black Hne of distant rising-ground, 
softened and blurred at the edge by trees, she rose into the sky and looked 
upon the plain, strewn with upturned faces that had once at mothers' 
breasts sought mothers' eyes, or slumbered happily. Heaven keep us 
from a knowledge of the secrets whispered afterwards upon the tainted 
wind that blew across the scene of that day's work and that night's death 
and suffering ! Many a lonely moon was bright upon the battle-ground, 
and many a star kept mournful watch upon it, and many a wind from 
every quarter of the earth blew over it, before the traces of the fight were 
worn away. 

They lurked and lingered for a long time, but survived in little things, 
for Nature, far above the evil passions of men, soon recovered Her 
serenity, and smiled upon the guilty battle-ground as she had done before, 
when it was innocent. The larks sang high above it ; the swallows 
skimmed and dipped and flitted to and fro ; the shadows of the flying 



i82 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

clouds pursued each other swiftly, over grass and corn and turnip-field 
and wood, and over roof and church-spire in the nesthng town among the 
trees, away into the bright distance on the borders of the sky and earth, 
where the red sunsets faded. Crops were sown, and grew up, and were 
gathered in ; the stream that had been crimsoned, turned a water-mill ; 
men whistled at the plough ; gleaners and haymakers were seen in quiet 
groups at work ; sheep and oxen pastured ; boys whooped and called, in 
fields, to scare away the birds ; smoke rose from cottage chimneys ; 
Sabbath bells rang peacefully ; old people lived and died ; the timid 
creatures of the field, and simple flowers of the bush and garden, grew 
and withered in their destined terms : and all upon the fierce and 
bloody battle-ground, where thousands upon thousands had been killed 
in the great fight. 

But there were deep green patches in the growing corn at first, that 
people looked at awfully. Year after year they re-appeared ; and it was 
known that underneath those fertile spots, heaps of men and horses lay 
buried, indiscriminately, enriching the ground. The husbandmen who 
ploughed those places, shrank from the great worms abounding there ; 
and the sheaves they yielded, were, for many a long year, called the Battle 
Sheaves, and set apart ; and no one ever knew a Battle Sheaf to be among 
the last load at a Harvest Home. For a long time, every furrow that was 
turned, revealed some fragments of the fight. For a long time, there 
were wounded trees upon the battle-ground ; and scraps of hacked and 
broken fence and wall, where deadly struggles had been made ; and 
trampled parts where not a leaf or blade would grow. For a long time, 
no village-girl would dress her hair or bosom with the sweetest flower 
from that field of death : and after many a year had come and gone, the 
berries growing there, were still believed to leave too deep a stain upon 
the hand that plucked them. 

The Seasons in their course, however, though they passed as lightly as 
the summer clouds themselves, obHterated, in the lapse of time, even 
these remains of the old conflict ; and wore away such legendary traces of 
it as the neighbouring people carried in their minds, until they dwindled 
into old wives' tales, dimly remembered round the winter fire, and waning 
every year. Where the wild flowers and berries had so long remained 
upon the stem untouched, gardens arose, and houses were built, and 
children played at battles on the turf. The wounded trees had long ago 
made Christmas logs, and blazed and roared away. The deep green 
patches were no greener now than the memory of those who lay in dust 
below. The plough-share still turned up from time to time some rusty 
bits of metal, but it was hard to say what use they had ever served, and 
those who found them wondered and disputed. An old dinted corslet, 
and a helmet, had been hanging in the church so long, that the same weak 
half-bhnd old man who tried in vain to make them out above the white- 
washed arch, had marvelled at them as a baby. If the host slain upon the 
field, could have been for a moment reanimated in the forms in which 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE 183 

they fell, each upon the spot that was the bed of his untimely death, 
gashed and ghastly soldiers would have stared in, hundreds deep, at 
household door and window ; and would have risen on the hearths of 
quiet homes; and would have been the garnered store of barns and 
granaries ; and would have started up between the cradled infant and 
its nurse ; and would have floated with the stream, and whirled 
round on the mill, and crowded the orchard, and burdened the meadow, 
and piled the rickyard high with dying men. So altered was the 
battle-ground, where thousands upon thousands had been killed in the 
great fight. 

Nowhere more altered, perhaps, about a hundred years ago, than in 
one little orchard attached to an old stone house with a honeysuckle 
porch : where, on a bright autumn morning, there were sounds of music 
and laughter, and where two girls danced merrily together on the grass, 
while some half-dozen peasant women standing on ladders, gathering the 
apples from the trees, stopped in their work to look down, and share their 
enjoyment. It was a pleasant, lively, natural scene ; a beautiful day, a 
retired spot ; and the two girls, quite unconstrained and careless, danced 
in the very freedom and gaiety of their hearts. 

If there were no such thing as display in the world, my private opinion 
is, and I hope you agree with me, that we might get on a great deal better 
than we do, and might be infinitely more agreeable company than we are. 
It was charming to see how these girls danced. They had no spectators 
but the apple-pickers on the ladders. They were very glad to please 
them, but they danced to please themselves (or at least you would have 
supposed so) ; and you could no more help admiring, than they could 
help dancing. How they did dance ! 

Not like opera-dancers. Not at all. And not like Madame Anybody's 
finished pupils. Not the least. It was not quadrille dancing, nor 
minuet dancing, nor even country-dance dancing. It was neither in the 
old style, nor the new style, nor the French style, nor the English style ; 
though it may have been, by accident, a trifle in the Spanish style, which 
is a free and joyous one, I am told, deriving a delightful air of off-hand 
inspiration, from the chirping little castanets. As they danced among 
the orchard trees, and down the groves of stems and back again, and 
twirled each other lightly round and round, the influence of their airy 
motion seemed to spread and spread, in the sun-lighted scene, hke an 
expanding circle in the water. Their streaming hair and fluttering 
skirts, the elastic grass beneath their feet, the boughs that rustled in the 
morning air — the flashing leaves, their speckled shadows on the soft green 
ground — the balmy wind that swept along the landscape, glad to turn the 
distant windmill, cheerily — everything between the two girls, and the 
man and team at plough upon the ridge of land, where they showed 
against the sky as if they were the last things in the world — seemed 
dancing too. 

At last the younger of the dancing sisters, out of breath, and laughing 



i84 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

gaily, threw herself upon a bench to rest. The other leaned against a 
tree hard by. The music, a wandering harp and fiddle, left off with a 
flourish, as if it boasted of its freshness ; though, the truth is, it had gone 
at such a pace, and worked itself to such a pitch of competition with the 
dancing, that it never could have held on half a minute longer. The 
apple-pickers on the ladders raised a hum and murmur of applause, and 
then, in keeping with the sound, bestirred themselves to work again, like 
bees. 

The more actively, perhaps, because an elderly gentleman, who was no 
other than Doctor Jeddler himself — it was Doctor Jeddler's house and 
orchard, you should know, and these were Doctor Jeddler's daughters — 
came busthng out to see what was the matter, and who the deuce played 
music on his property, before breakfast. For he was a great philosopher. 
Doctor Jeddler, and not very musical. 

" Music and dancing to-day ! " said the Doctor, stopping short, and 
speaking to himself, " I thought they dreaded to-day. But it's a world 
of contradictions. Why, Grace ; why, Marion ! " he added, aloud, " is 
the world more mad than usual this morning .? " 

" Make some allowance for it, father, if it be," repHed his younger 
daughter, Marion, going close to him, and looking into his face, " for it's 
somebody's birthday." 

" Somebody's birthday, Puss," rephed the Doctor. " Don't you know 
it's always somebody's birthday ? Did you never hear how many new 
performers enter on this — ha ! ha ! ha ! — it's impossible to speak gravely 
of it — on this preposterous and ridiculous business called Life, every 
minute ? " 

" No, father ! " 

" No, not you, of course ; you're a woman — almost," said the Doctor. 
*' By the bye," and he looked into the pretty face, still close to his, " I 
suppose it's your birthday." 

" No ! Do you really, father t " cried his pet daughter, pursing up 
her red lips to be kissed. 

" There ! Take my love with it," said the Doctor, imprinting his upon 
them ; " and many happy returns of the — the idea ! — of the day. The 
notion of wishing happy returns in such a farce as this," said the Doctor 
to himself, " is good ! Ha ! ha ! ha ! " 

Doctor Jeddler was, as I have said, a great philosopher ; and the heart 
and mystery of his philosophy was, to look upon the world as a gigantic 
practical joke : as something too absurd to be considered seriously, by 
any rational man. His system of behef had been, in the beginning, part 
and parcel of the battle-ground on which he lived ; as you shall presently 
understand. 

" Well ! But how did you get the music t " asked the Doctor. 
" Poultry-stealers, of course. Where did the minstrels come from } " 

'Alfred sent the music," said his daughter Grace, adjusting a few 
simple flowers in her sister's hair, with which, in her admiration of that 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 185 

youthful beauty, she had herself adorned it half-an-hour before, and 
which the dancing had disarranged. 

" Oh ! Alfred sent the music, did he ? " returned the Doctor. 

" Yes. He met it coming out of the town as he was entering early. 
The men are travelling on foot, and rested there last night ; and as it was 
Marion's birthday, and he thought it would please her, he sent them on, 
with a pencilled note to me, saying that if I thought so too, they had 
come to serenade her," 

" Ay, ay," said the Doctor, carelessly, " he always takes your opinion." 

" And my opinion being favourable," said Grace, good-humouredly ; 
and pausing for a moment to admire the pretty head she decorated, with 
her own thrown back ; " and Marion being in high spirits, and beginning 
to dance, I joined her : and so we danced to Alfred's music till we were 
out of breath. And we thought the music all the gayer for being sent by 
Alfred. Didn't we, dear Marion ? " 

" Oh, I don't know, Grace. How you tease me about Alfred." 

" Tease you by mentioning your lover ! " said her sister. 

" I am sure I don't much care to have him mentioned," said the wilful 
beauty, stripping the petals from some flowers she held, and scattering 
them on the ground. " I am almost tired of hearing of him ; and as to 
his being my lover " 

" Hush ! Don't speak hghtly of a true heart, which is all your own, 
Marion," cried her sister, " even in jest. There is not a truer heart than 
Alfred's in the world ! " 

" No — no," said Marion, raising her eyebrows with a pleasant air of 
careless consideration, " perhaps not. But I don't know that there's any 
great merit in that. I — I don't want him to be so very true. I never 

asked him. If he expects that I . But, dear Grace, why need we 

talk of him at all, just now ! " 

It was agreeable to see the graceful figures of the blooming sisters 
twined together, lingering among the trees, conversing thus, with 
earnestness opposed to lightness, yet with love responding tenderly to 
love. And it was very curious indeed to see the younger sister's eyes 
suffused with tears ; and something fervently and deeply felt, breaking 
through the wilfulness of what she said, and striving with it painfully. 

The difference between them, in respect of age, could not exceed four 
years at most ; but Grace, as often happens in such cases, when no 
mother watches over both (the Doctor's wife was dead), seemed, in her 
gentle care of her young sister, and in the steadiness of her devotion to 
her, older than she was ; and more removed, in course of nature, from all 
competition with her, or participation, otherwise than through her 
sympathy and true affection, in her wayward fancies, than their ages 
seemed to warrant. Great character of mother, that, even in this 
shadow, and faint reflection of it, purifies the heart, and raises the exalted 
nature nearer to the angels ! 

The Doctor's reflections, as he looked after them, and heard the 



i86 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

purport of their discourse, were limited, at first, to certain merry 
meditations on the folly of all loves and likings, and the idle imposition 
practised on themselves by young people, who believed, for a moment, 
that there could be anything serious in such bubbles, and were always 
undeceived — always ! 

But the home-adorning, self-denying qualities of Grace, and her sweet 
temper, so gentle and retiring, yet including so much constancy and 
bravery of spirit, seemed all expressed to him in the contrast between her 
quiet household figure and that of his younger and more beautiful child ; 
and he was sorry for her sake — sorry for them both — that life should be 
such a very ridiculous business as it was. 

The Doctor never dreamed of inquiring whether his children, or either 
of them, helped in any way to make the scheme a serious one. But then 
he was a Philosopher. 

A kind and generous man by nature, he had stumbled, by chance, over 
that common Philosopher's stone (much more easily discovered than the 
object of the alchemist's researches), which sometimes trips up kind and 
generous men, and has the fatal property of turning gold to dross, and 
every precious thing to poor account. 

" Britain ! " cried the Doctor. " Britain ! Halloa ! " 
A small man, with an uncommonly sour and discontented face, 
emerged from the house, and returned to this call the unceremonious 
acknowledgment of " Now then ! " 

" Where's the brealtfast table .? " said the Doctor. 
" In the house," returned Britain. 

" Are you going to spread it out here, as you were told last night ? " 
said the Doctor. " Don't you know that there are gentlemen coming ? 
That there's business to be done this morning, before the coach comes 
by .? That this is a very particular occasion .? " 

" I couldn't do anything, Doctor Jeddler, till the women had done 
getting in the apples, could I ? " said Britain, his voice rising with 
his reasoning, so that it was very loud at last. 

" Well, have they done now ? " returned the Doctor, looking at his 
watch, and clapping his hands. " Come ! make haste ! where's 
Clemency ? " 

" Here am I, Mister," said a voice from one of the ladders, which a pair 
of clumsy feet descended briskly. " It's all done now. Clear away, gals. 
Everything shall be ready for you in half a minute, Mister." 

With that she began to bustle about most vigorously ; presenting, as 
she did so, an appearance sufficiently peculiar to justify a word of 
introduction. 

She was about thirty years old ; and had a sufficiently plump and 
cheerful face, though it was twisted up into an odd expression of tightness 
that made it comical. But the extraordinary homeliness of her gait and 
manner, would have superseded any face in the world. To say that she 
had two left legs, and somebody else's arms ; and that all four limbs 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 187 

seemed to be out of joint, and to start from perfectly wrong places when 
they were set in motion ; is to offer the mildest outhne of the reality. 
To say that she was perfectly content and satisfied with these arrange- 
ments, and regarded them as being no business of hers, and took her arms 
and legs as they came, and allowed them to dispose of themselves just as 
it happened, is to render faint justice to her equanimity. Her dress was 
a prodigious pair of self-willed shoes, that never wanted to go where her 
feet went ; blue stockings ; a printed gown of many colours, and the 
most hideous pattern procurable for money ; and a white apron. She 
always wore short sleeves, and always had, by some accident, grazed 
elbows, in which she took so Hvely an interest that she was continually 
trying to turn them round and get impossible views of them. In general, 
a little cap perched somewhere on her head ; though it was rarely to be 
met with in the place usually occupied in other subjects, by that article of 
dress ; but from head to foot she was scrupulously clean, and maintained 
a kind of dislocated tidiness. Indeed her laudable anxiety to be tidy and 
compact in her own conscience as well as in the public eye, gave rise to 
one of her most startling evolutions, which was to grasp herself sometimes 
by a sort of wooden handle (part of her clothing, and familiarly called a 
busk), and wrestle as it were with her garments, until they fell into a 
symmetrical arrangement. 

Such, in outward form and garb, was Clemency Newcome ; who was 
supposed to have unconsciously originated a corruption of her own 
Christian name, from Clementina (but nobody knew, for the deaf old 
mother, a very phenomenon of age, whom she had supported almost from 
a child, was dead, and she had no other relation) ; who now busied 
herself in preparing the table ; and who stood, at intervals, with her bare 
red arms crossed, rubbing her grazed elbows with opposite hands, and 
staring at it very composedly, until she suddenly remembered something 
else it wanted and jogged off to fetch it. 

" Here are them two lawyers a-coming. Mister ! " said Clemency, in a 
tone of no very great good-will. 

" Aha ! " cried the Doctor, advancing to the gate to meet them. 
" Good morning, good morning ! Grace, my dear ! Marion ! Here 
are Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs. Where's Alfred ? " 

" He'll be back directly, father, no doubt," said Grace. " He had so 
much to do this morning in his preparations for departure, that he was up 
and out by daybreak. Good morning, gentlemen." 

" Ladies ! " said Mr. Snitchey, " for SeK and Craggs," who bowed, 
" good morning. Miss," to Marion, " I kiss your hand." Which he 
did. " And I wish you " — which he might or might not, for he didn't 
look, at first sight, like a gentleman troubled with many warm outpour- 
ings of soul, in behalf of other people, " a hundred happy returns of this 
auspicious day." 

" Ha ha ha ! " laughed the Doctor thoughtfully, with his hands in his 
pockets. " The great farce in a hundred acts ! " 



i88 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

" You wouldn't, I am sure," said Mr. Snitchey, standing a small pro- 
fessional blue bag against one leg of the table, " cut the great farce short 
for this actress, at all events, Doctor Jeddler." 

" No," returned the Doctor. " God forbid ! May she live to laugh 
at it, as long as she can laugh, and then say, with the French wit, ' The 
farce is ended ; draw the curtain.' " 

" The French wit," said Mr, Snitchey, peeping sharply into his blue 
bag, " was wrong, Doctor Jeddler ; and your philosophy is altogether 
wrong, depend upon it, as I have often told you. Nothing serious in life ! 
What do you call law .? " 

" A joke," replied the Doctor. 

" Did you ever go to law ? " asked Mr. Snitchey, looking out of the 
blue bag. 

" Never," returned the Doctor. 

" If you ever do," said Mr. Snitchey, " perhaps you'll alter that 
opinion." 

Craggs, who seemed to be represented by Snitchey, and to be conscious 
of little or no separate existence or personal individuality, offered a 
remark of his own in this place. It involved the only idea of which he 
did not stand seized and possessed in equal moieties with Snitchey ; but 
he had some partners in it among the wise men of the world. 

" It's made a great deal too easy," said Mr, Craggs. 

" Law is ? " asked the Doctor. 

" Yes," said Mr. Craggs, " everything is. Everything appears to me 
to be made too easy, now-a-days. It's the vice of these times. If the 
world is a joke (I am not prepared to say it isn't), it ought to be made a 
very difficult joke to crack. It ought to be as hard a struggle, sir, as 
possible. That's the intention. But it's being made far too easy. We 
are oihng the gates of life. They ought to be rusty. We shall have them 
beginning to turn, soon, with a smooth sound. Whereas they ought to 
grate upon their hinges, sir," 

Mr. Craggs seemed positively to grate upon his own hinges, as he 
delivered this opinion ; to which he communicated immense effect — 
being a cold, hard, dry man, dressed in grey and white, like a flint ; with 
small twinkles in his eyes, as if something struck sparks out of them. The 
three natural kingdoms, indeed, had each a fanciful representative among 
this brotherhood of disputants : for Snitchey was like a magpie or a raven 
(only not so sleek), and the Doctor had a streaked face like a winter- 
pippin, with here and there a dimple to express the peckings of the birds, 
and a very little bit of pigtail behind, that stood for the stalk. 

As the active figure of a handsome young man, dressed for a journey, 
and followed by a porter, bearing several packages and baskets, entered 
the orchard at a brisk pace, and with an air of gaiety and hope that 
accorded well with the morning, these three drew together, like the 
brothers of the sister Fates, or like the Graces most effectually disguised, 
or like the three weird prophets on the heath, and greeted him. 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 189 

" Happy returns, Alf," said the Doctor, lightly. 

" A hundred happy returns of this auspicious day, Mr. Heathfield," 
said Snitchey, bowing low. 

" Returns ! " Craggs murmured in a deep voice, all alone. 

" Why, what a battery ! " exclaimed Alfred, stopping short, " and 
one — two — three — all foreboders of no good, in the great sea before me. 
I am glad you are not the first I have met this morning : I should have 
taken it for a bad omen. But Grace was the first — sweet, pleasant 
Grace — so I defy you all ! " 

" If you please, mister, I was the first you know," said Clemency 
Newcome. " She was a walking out here, before sunrise, you remember. 
I was in the house." 

" That's true ! Clemency was the first," said Alfred. " So I defy 
you with Clemency." 

" Ha, ha, ha ! — for Self and Craggs," said Snitchey. " What a 
defiance ! " 

" Not so bad a one as it appears, may be," said Alfred, shaking hands 
heartily with the Doctor, and also with Snitchey and Craggs, and then 
looking round. " Where are the — Good Heavens ! " 

With a start, productive for the moment of a closer partnership 
between Jonathan Snitchey and Thomas Craggs than the subsisting 
articles of agreement in that wise contemplated, he hastily betook himself 
to where the sisters stood together, and — however, I needn't more 
particularly explain his manner of saluting Marion first, and Grace after- 
wards, than by hinting that Mr. Craggs may possibly have considered it 
" too easy." 

Perhaps to change the subject. Doctor Jeddler made a hasty move 
towards the breakfast, and they all sat down at table. Grace presided ; 
but so discreetly stationed herself, as to cut off her sister and Alfred from 
the rest of the company. Snitchey and Craggs sat at opposite corners, 
with the blue bag between them for safety ; and the Doctor took his 
usual position, opposite to Grace. Clemency hovered galvanically about 
the table, as waitress ; and the melancholy Britain, at another and a 
smaller board, acted as Grand Carver of a round of beef, and a ham. 

" Meat ? " said Britain, approaching Mr. Snitchey, with the carving 
knife and fork in his hands, and throwing the question at him Hke a missile. 

" Certainly," returned the lawyer. 

" Do you want any ? " to Craggs. 

" Lean, and well done," replied that gentleman. 

Having executed these orders, and moderately supplied the Doctor 
(he seemed to know that nobody else wanted anything to eat), he lingered 
as near the Firm as he decently could, watching, with an austere eye, 
their disposition of the viands, and but once relaxing the severe expres- 
sion of his face. This was on the occasion of Mr. Craggs, whose teeth 
were not of the best, partially choking, when he cried out with great 
animation, " I thought he was gone ! " 



190 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

" Now, Alfred," said the Doctor, " for a word or two of business, while 
we are yet at breakfast." 

" While we are yet at breakfast," said Snitchey and Craggs, who 
seemed to have no present idea of leaving off. 

Although Alfred had not been breakfasting, and seemed to have quite 
enough business on his hands as it was, he respectfully answered : 
" If you please, sir." 

" If anything could be serious," the Doctor began, " in such a " 

" Farce as this, sir," hinted Alfred. 

" In such a farce as this," observed the Doctor, " it might be this 
recurr'ince, on the eve of separation, of a double birthday, which is con- 
nected with many associations pleasant to us four, and with the recollec- 
tion of a long and amicable intercourse. That's not to the purpose." 

" Ah ! yes, yes. Doctor Jeddler," said the young man. " It is to the 
purpose. Much to the purpose, as my heart bears witness this morning ; 
and as yours does too, I know, if you would let it speak. I leave your 
house to-day ; I cease to be your ward to-day ; we part with tender 
relations stretching far behind us, that never can be exactly renewed, 
and with others dawning yet before us," he looked down at Marion beside 
him, " fraught with such considerations as I must not trust myself to 
speak of now. Come, come ! " he added, rallying his spirits and the 
Doctor at once," there's a serious grain in this large foolish dust-heap. 
Doctor. Let us allow to-day, that there is One." 

" To-day ! " cried the Doctor. " Hear him ! Ha, ha, ha ! Of all 
days in the foolish year. Why on this day, the great battle was fought 
on this ground. On this ground where we now sit, where I saw my two 
girls dance this morning, where the fruit has just been gathered for our 
eating from these trees, the roots of which are struck in Men, not earth, — 
so many lives were lost, that within my recollection, generations after- 
wards, a churchyard full of bones, and dust of bones, and chips of cloven 
skulls, has been dug up from underneath our feet here. Yet not a 
hundred people in that battle knew for what they fought, or why ; not 
a hundred of the inconsiderate rejoicers in the victory, why they rejoiced. 
Not half a hundred people were the better for the gain or loss. Not 
half-a-dozen men agree to this hour on the cause or merits ; and nobody, 
in short, ever knew anything distinct about it, but the mourners of the 
slain. Serious, too ! " said the Doctor, laughing. " Such a system ! " 
" But all this seems to me," said Alfred, " to be very serious." 
" Serious ! " cried the Doctor. " If you allowed such things to be 
serious, you must go mad, or die, or climb up to the top of a mountain 
and turn hermit." 

" Besides — so long ago," said Alfred. 

" Long ago ! " returned the Doctor. " Do you know what the world 
has been doing, ever since ? Do you know what else it has been doing .? 
/ don't ! " 

" It has gone to law a little," observed Mr. Snitchey, stirring his tea. 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE 191 

" Although the way out has been always made too easy," said his 
partner. 

" And you'll excuse my saying, Doctor," pursued Mr. Snitchey, 
" having been already put a thousand times in possession of my opinion, 
in the course of our discussions, that, in its having gone to law, and in its 
legal system altogether, I do observe a serious side — now, really, a some- 
thing tangible, and with a purpose and intention in it " 

Clemency Newcome made an angular tumble against the table, 
occasioning a sounding clatter among the cups and saucers. 

" Heyday ! what's the matter there ? " exclaimed the Doctor. 

" It's this evil-inclined blue bag," said Clemency, " always tripping 
up somebody ! " 

" With a purpose and intention in it, I was saying," resumed Snitchey, 
" that commands respect. Life a farce, Doctor Jeddler ? With law 
in it ? " 

The Doctor laughed, and looked at Alfred. 

" Granted, if you please, that war is foolish," said Snitchey. " There 
we agree. For example. Here's a smiling country," pointing it out 
with his fork, " once overrun by soldiers — trespassers every man of 'em — 
and laid waste by fire and sword. He, he, he ! The idea of any man 
exposing himself, voluntarily, to fire and sword ! Stupid, wasteful, 
positively ridiculous ; you laugh at your fellow-creatures, you know, 
when you think of it ! But take this smiling country as it stands. Think 
of the laws appertaining to real property ; to the bequest and devise of 
real property ; to the mortgage and redemption of real property ; to 
leasehold, freehold, and copyhold estate ; think," said Mr. Snitchey, with 
such great emotion that he actually smacked his lips, " of the complicated 
laws relating to title and proof of title, with all the contradictory 
precedents and numerous Acts of Parliament connected with them ; 
think of the infinite number of ingenious and interminable Chancery 
suits, to which this pleasant prospect may give rise ; — and acknowledge. 
Doctor Jeddler, that there is a green spot in the scheme about us ! I 
believe," said Mr. Snitchey, looking at his partner, " that I speak for 
Self and Craggs ? " 

Mr. Craggs having signified assent, Mr. Snitchey, somewhat freshened 
by his recent eloquence, observed that he would take a little more beef, 
and another cup of tea. 

" I don't stand up for life in general," he added, rubbing his hands and 
chuckling, " it's full of folly ; full of something worse. Professions of 
trust, and confidence, and unselfishness, and all that. Bah, bah, bah 
We see what they're worth. But you mustn't laugh at life ; you've got 
a game to play ; a very serious game indeed ! Everybody's playing 
against you, you know ; and you're playing against them. Oh ! it's a 
very interesting thing. There are deep moves upon the board. You 
must only laugh. Doctor Jeddler, when you win ; and then not much. 
He, he, he ! And then not much," repeated Snitchey, rolling his head 



192 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

and winking his eye ; as if he would have added, " you may do this 
instead ! " 

" Well, Alfred ! " cried the Doctor, " what do you say now ? " 

" I say, sir," replied Alfred, " that the greatest favour you could do me, 
and yourself too I am inclined to think, would be to try sometimes to 
forget this battle-field, and others like it, in that broader battle-field of 
Life, on which the sun looks every day." 

" Really, I'm afraid that wouldn't soften his opinions, Mr. Alfred," 
said Snitchey. " The combatants are very eager and very bitter in that 
same battle of Life. There's a great deal of cutting and slashing, and 
firing into people's heads from behind ; terrible treading down, and 
trampling on ; it's rather a bad business." 

" I believe, Mr. Snitchey," said Alfred, " there are quiet victories and 
struggles, great sacrifices of self, and noble acts of heroism, in it — even in 
many of its apparent lightnesses and contradictions — not the less difficult 
to achieve, because they have no earthly chronicle or audience ; done 
every day in nooks and corners, and in little households, and in men's and 
women's hearts — any one of which might reconcile the sternest man to 
such a world, and fill him with belief and hope in it, though two-fourths 
of its people were at war, and another fourth at law ; and that's a bold 
word." 

Both the sisters listened keenly. 

"Well, well ! " said the Doctor, " I am too old to be converted, even 
by my friend Snitchey here, or my good spinster sister, Martha Jeddler ; 
who had what she calls her domestic trials ages ago, and has led a 
sympathising life with all sorts of people ever since ; and who is so much 
of your opinion (only she's less reasonable and more obstinate, being a 
woman), that we can't agree, and seldom meet. I was born upon this 
battle-field. I began, as a boy, to have my thoughts directed to the real 
history of a battle-field. Sixty years have gone over my head ; and I 
have never seen the Christian world, including Heaven knows how many 
loving mothers and good enough girls, like mine here, anything but mad 
for a battle-field. The same contradictions prevail in everything. One 
must either laugh or cry at such stupendous inconsistencies ; and I prefer 
to laugh." 

Britain, who had been paying the profoundest and most melancholy 
attention to each speaker in his turn, seemed suddenly to decide in favour 
of the same preference, if a deep sepulchral sound that escaped him might 
be construed into a demonstration of risibility. His face, however, was 
so perfectly unaffected by it, both before and afterwards, that although 
one or two of the breakfast party looked round as being startled by a 
mysterious noise, nobody connected the offender with it. 

Except his partner in attendance. Clemency Newcome ; who, rousing 
him with one of those favourite joints, her elbows, inquired in a 
reproachful whisper, what he laughed at. 

" Not you ! " said Britain. 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 193 

^' Who then ? " 

" Humanity," said Britain. " That's the joke." 

" What between master and them lawyers, he's getting more and more 
addle-headed every day ! " cried Clemency, giving him a lunge with the 
other elbow, as a mental stimulant. " Do you know where you are .? 
Do you want to get warning ? " 

" I don't know anything," said Britain, with a leaden eye and an 
immovable visage. " I don't care for anything. I don't make out 
anything. I don't believe anything. And I don't want anything." 

Although this forlorn summary of his general condition may have been 
overcharged in an access of despondency, Benjamin Britain — sometimes 
called Little Britain, to distinguish him from Great ; as we might say 
Young England, to express Old England with a difference — ^had defined 
his real state more accurately than might be supposed. For serving as a 
sort of man Miles to the Doctor's Friar Bacon ; and listening day after 
day to innumerable orations addressed by the Doctor to various people, 
all tending to show that his very existence was at best a mistake and an 
absurdity, this unfortunate servitor had fallen, by degrees, into such an 
abyss of confused and contradictory suggestions from within and without, 
that Truth at the bottom of her well, was on the level surface as compared 
with Britain in the depths of his mystification. The only point he clearly 
comprehended, was, that the new element usually brought into these 
discussions by Snitchey and Craggs, never served to make them clearer, 
and always seemed to give the Doctor a species of advantage and con- 
firmation. Therefore he looked upon the Firm as one of the proximate 
causes of his state of mind, and held them in abhorrence accordingly. 

" But this is not our business, Alfred," said the Doctor. " Ceasing to 
be my ward (as you have said) to-day ; and leaving us full to the brim of 
such learning as the Grammar School down here was able to give you, and 
your studies in London could add to that, and such practical knowledge 
as a dull old country Doctor like myself could graft upon both ; you are 
away, now, into the world. The first term of probation appointed by 
your poor father, being over, away you go now, your own master, to fulfil 
his second desire : and long before your three years' tour among the 
foreign schools of medicine is finished, you'll have forgotten us. Lord, 
you'll forget us easily in six months ! " 

" If I do — But you know better ; why should I speak to you ! " said 
Alfred, laughing. 

" I don't know anything of the sort," returned the Doctor. " What 
do you say, Marion ? " 

Marion, trifling with her teacup seemed to say — but she didn't say it — 
that he was welcome to forget them, if he could. Grace pressed the 
blooming face against her cheek, and smiled. 

" I haven't been, I hope, a very unjust steward in the execution of my 
trust," pursued the Doctor ; " but I am to be, at any rate, formally 
discharged, and released, and what not, this morning ; and here are our 
cc. G 



194 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

good friends Snitchey and Craggs, with a bagful of papers, and accounts, 
and documents, for the transfer of the balance of the trust fund to you 
(I wish it was a more difficult one to dispose of, Alfred, but you must get 
to be a great man and make it so), and other drolleries of that sort, which 
are to be signed, sealed, and delivered." 

" And duly witnessed, as by law required," said Snitchey, pushing 
away his plate, and taking out the papers, which his partner proceeded to 
spread upon the table ; " and Self and Craggs having been co- trustees 
with you, Doctor, in so far as the fund was concerned, we shall want your 
two servants to attest the signatures — can you read, Mrs. Newcome ?" 

" I an't married, mister," said Clemency. 

" Oh, I beg your pardon. I should think not," chuckled Snitchey, 
casting his eyes over her extraordinary figure. " You can read ? " 

" A little," answered Clemency. 

" The marriage service, night and morning, eh ? " observed the 
lawyer, jocosely. 

** No," said Clemency. " Too hard. I only reads a thimble." 

" Read a thimble ! " echoed Snitchey. " What are you talking about, 
young woman ? " 

Clemency nodded. " And a nutmeg-grater." 

" Why, this is a lunatic ! a subject for the Lord High Chancellor ! " 
said Snitchey, staring at her. 

" If possessed of any property," stipulated Craggs. 

Grace, however, interposing, explained that each of the articles in 
question bore an engraved motto, and so formed the pocket Hbrary of 
Clemency Newcome, who was not much given to the study of books. 

" Oh, that's it, is it. Miss Grace ! " said Snitchey. 

" Yes, yes. Ha, ha, ha ! I thought our friend was an idiot. She 
looks uncommonly like it," he muttered, with a supercilious glance. 
" And what does the thimble say, Mrs. Newcome ? " 

" I an't married, mister," observed Clemency. 

" Well, Newcome. Will that do .? " said the lawyer. " What does 
the thimble sav, Newcome } " 

How Clemency, before replying to this question, held one pocket open, 
and looked down into its yawning depths for the thimble which wasn't 
there, — and how she then held an opposite pocket open, and seeming to 
descry it, Hke a pearl of great price, at the bottom, cleared away such 
intervening obstacles as a handkerchief, an end of wax candle, a flushed 
apple, an orange, a lucky penny, a cramp bone, a padlock, a pair of 
scissors in a sheath, more expressively describable as promising young 
shears, a handful or so of loose beads, several balls of cotton, a needle-case, 
a cabinet collection of curl-papers, and a biscuit, all of which articles she 
entrusted individually and severally to Britain to hold, — is of no conse- 
quence. Nor how, in her determination to grasp this pocket by the 
liiroat and keep it prisoner (for it had a tendency to swing and twist 
itself round the nearest corner), she assumed, and calmly maintained, an 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 195 

attitude apparently inconsistent with the human anatomy and the laws 
of gravity. It is enough that at last she triumphantly produced the 
thimble on her finger, and rattled the nutmeg-grater ; the literature of 
both those trinkets being obviously in course of wearing out and wasting 
away, through excessive friction. 

" That's the thimble, is it, young woman ? " said Mr, Snitchey, 
diverting himself at her expense. " And what does the thimble 
say ? " 

" It says," rephed Clemency, reading slowly round it as if it were a 
tower, " For-get and For-give." 

Snitchey and Craggs laughed heartily. " So new ! " said Snitchey. 
" So easy ! " said Craggs. " Such a knowledge of human nature in it," 
said Snitchey. " So appHcable to the affairs of life," said Craggs. 

" And the nutmeg-grater ? " inquired the head of the Firm. 

" The grater says," returned Clemency, " Do as you — wold — be — done 
by." 

" ' Do, or you'll be done brown, you mean,' " said Mr. Snitchey. 

" I don't understand," retorted Clemency, shaking her head vaguely. 
" I an't no lawyer." 

" I am afraid that if she was. Doctor," said Mr. Snitchey, turning to 
him suddenly, as if to anticipate any effect that might otherwise be 
consequent on this retort, " she'd find it to be the golden rule of half her 
cHents. They are serious enough in that — whimsical as your world is — 
and lay the blame on us afterwards. We, in our profession, are httle else 
than mirrors after all, Mr. Alfred ; but we are generally consulted by 
angry and quarrelsome people, who are not in their best looks ; and it's 
rather hard to quarrel with us if we reflect unpleasant aspects. I think," 
said Mr. Snitchey, " that I speak for Self and Craggs ? " 

" Decidedly," said Craggs. 

" And so, if Mr. Britain will oblige us with a mouthful of ink," said 
Mr. Snitchey, returning to the papers, " we'll sign, seal, and dehver as 
soon as possible, or the coach will be coming past before we know where 
we are." 

If one might judge from his appearance, there was every probability of 
the coach coming past before Mr. Britain knew where he was ; for he 
stood in a state of abstraction, mentally balancing the Doctor against the 
lawyers, and the lawyers against the Doctor, and their clients against 
both ; and engaged in feeble attempts to make the thimble and nutmeg- 
grater (a new idea to him) square with anybody's system of philosophy ; 
and, in short, bewildering himself as much as ever his great namesake has 
done with theories and schools. But Clemency, who was his good 
Genius — though he had the meanest possible opinion of her under- 
standing, by reason of her seldom troubhng herself with abstract specula- 
tions, and being always at hand to do the right thing at the right time — 
having produced the ink in a twinkhng, tendered him the further service 
of recalling him to himself by the apphcation of her elbows ; with which 



196 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

gentle flappers she so jogged his memory, in a more Hteral construction of 
that phrase than usual, that he soon became quite fresh and brisk. 

How he laboured under an apprehension not uncommon to persons in 
his degree, to whom, the use of pen and ink is an event, that he couldn't 
append his name to a document, not of his own writing, without com- 
mitting himself in some shadowy manner, or somehow signing away vague 
and enormous sums of money ; and how he approached the deeds under 
protest, and by dint of the Doctor's coercion, and insisted on pausing to 
look at them before writing (the cramped hand, to say nothing of the 
phraseology, being so much Chinese to him), and also on turning them 
round to see whether there was anything fraudulent, underneath ; and 
how, having signed his name, he became desolate as one who had parted 
with his property and rights ; I want the time to tell. Also, Low the 
blue bag containing his signature, afterwards had a mysterious interest 
for him, and he couldn't leave it ; also, how Clemency Newcome, in an 
ecstasy of laughter at the idea of her own importance and dignity, 
b)rooded over iJhe whole table with her two elbows Hke a spread eagle, and 
reposed her head upon her left arm as a preliminary to the formation of 
certain cabalistic characters, which required a deal of ink, and imaginary 
counterparts whereof she executed at the same time with her tongue. 
Also, how, having once tasted ink, she became thirsty in that regard, as 
tigers are said to be after tasting another sort of fluid, and wanted to sign 
everything, and put her name in all kinds of places. In brief, the Doctor 
was discharged of his trust and all its responsibilities ; and Alfred, taking 
it on himself, was fairly started on the journey of life. 

" Britain ! " said the Doctor. " Run to the gate, and watch for the 
<:oach. Time flies, Alfred ! " 

" Yes, sir, yes," returned the young man, hurriedly. " Dear Grace ! 
a moment ! Marion — so young and beautiful, so winning and so much 
admired, dear to my heart as nothing else in life is — remember ! I leave 
Marion to you ! " 

" She has always been a sacred charge to me, Alfred. She is doubly so 
now. I will be faithful to my trust, believe me." 

" I do believe it, Grace. I know it well. Who could look upon your 
face, and hear your earnest voice, and not know it ! Ah, good Grace ! 
If I had your well-governed heart, and tranquil mind, how bravely I 
would leave this place to-day ! " 

" Would you ? " she answered, with a quiet smile. 
" And yet, Grace — Sister, seems the natural word." 
*' Use it ! " she said quickly. " I am glad to hear it, call me nothing 
else." 

" And yet. Sister, then," said Alfred, " Marion and I had better have 
your true and steadfast qualities serving us here, and making us both 
happier and better. I wouldn't carry them away, to sustain myself, if 
I could ! " 

" Coach upon the hill-top ! " exclaimed Britain. 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 197 

" Time flies, Alfred," said the Doctor. 

Marion had stood apart, with her eyes fixed upon the ground ; but this 
warning being given, her young lover brought her tenderly to where her 
sister stood, and gave her into her embrace. 

" I have been telhng Grace, dear Marion," he said, " that you are her 
charge ; my precious trust at parting. And when I come back and 
reclaim you, dearest, and the bright prospect of our married life lies 
stretched before us, it shall be one of our chief pleasures to consult how 
we can make Grace happy ; how we can anticipate her wishes ; how we 
can show our gratitude and love to her ; how we can return her some- 
thing of the debt she will have heaped upon us." 

The younger sister had one hand in his ; the other rested on her sister's 
neck. She looked into that sister's eyes, so calm, serene, and cheerful, 
with a gaze in which affection, admiration, sorrow, wonder, almost 
veneration were blended. She looked into that sister's face, as if it were 
the face of some bright angel. Calm, serene, and cheerful, it looked back 
on her and on her lover. 

" And when the time comes, as it must one day," said Alfred, 
— " I wonder it has never come yet : but Grace knows best, for Grace is 
always right, — ^when she will want a friend to open her whole heart to, 
and to be to her something of what she has been to us, — then, 
Marion, how faithful we will prove, and what delight to us to know 
that she, our dear good sister, loves and is loved again, as we would have 
her ! " 

Still the younger sister looked into her eyes, and turned not — even 
towards him. And still those honest eyes looked back, so calm, serene,, 
and cheerful, on herself and on her lover. 

" And when all that is past, and we are old, and hving (as we must !) 
together — close together ; talking often of old times," said Alfred — 
" these shall be our favourite times among them — this day most of all ; 
and telling each other what we thought and felt, and hoped and feared, 
at parting ; and how we couldn't bear to say good-bye " 

" Coach coming through the wood," cried Britain. 

" Yes ! I am ready — and how we met again, so happily, in spite of all ; 
we'll make this day the happiest in all the year, and keep it as a treble 
birthday. Shall we, dear .? " 

" Yes ! " interposed the elder sister, eagerly, and with a radiant smile. 
" Yes ! Alfred, don't linger. There's no time. Say good-bye to 
Marion. And Heaven be with you ! " 

He pressed the younger sister to his heart. Released from his embrace, 
she again clung to her sister ; and her eyes, with the same blended look, 
again sought those so calm, serene, and cheerful. 

" Farewell, my boy ! " said the Doctor. " To talk about any serious 
correspondence or serious affections, and engagements and so forth, in 
such a — ha ha ha ! — you know what I mean — why that, of course, would 
be sheer nonsense. All I can say is, that if you and Marion should 



198 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

continue in the same foolish minds, I shall not object to have you for a 
son-in-law one of these days," 

" Over the bridge ! " cried Britain. 

"Let it come ! " said Alfred, wringing the Doctor's hand stoutly. 
'■ Think of me sometimes, my old friend and guardian, as seriously as you 
can ! Adieu, Mr. Snitchey ! Farewell, Mr. Craggs ! " 

" Coming down the road ! " cried Britain. 

" A kiss of Clemency Newcome for long acquaintance' sake — shake 
hands, Britain — Marion, dearest heart, good-bye ! Sister Grace ! 
remember ! " 

The quiet household figure, and the face so beautiful in its serenity, 
were turned towards him in reply ; but Marion's look and attitude 
remained unchanged. 

The coach was at the gate. There was a bustle with the luggage. 
The coach drove away. Marion never moved. 

" He waves his hat to you, my love," said Grace. " Your chosen 
husband, darling. Look ! " 

The younger sister raised her head, and, for a moment, turned it. 
Then turning back again, and fully meeting, for the first time, those calm 
eyes, fell sobbing on her neck. 

" Oh, Grace. God bless you ! But I cannot bear to see it, Grace. 
It breaks my heart." 



PART THE SECOND 

Snitchey and Craggs had a snug little ofiice on the old battle-ground 
where they drove a snug httle business, and fought a great many small 
pitched battles for a great many contending parties. Though it could 
hardly be said of these conflicts that they were running fights — ^for in 
truth they generally proceeded at a snail's pace — the part the Firm had 
in them came so far within that general denomination, that now they 
took a shot at this PlaintifiF, and now aimed a chop at that Defendant, 
now made a heavy charge at an estate in Chancery, and now had some 
Hght skirmishing among an irregular body of small debtors, just as the 
occasion served, and the enemy happened to present himself. The 
Gazette was an important and profitable feature in some of their fields, 
as well as in fields of greater renown ; and in most of the Actions wherein 
they showed their generalship, it was aftervvards observed by the com- 
batants that they had had great difficulty in making each other out, or in 
knowing with any degree of distinctness what they were about, ic 
consequence of the vast amount of smoke by which they were surrounded. 
The offices of Messrs, Snitchey and Craggs stood convenient with an 
open door, down two smooth steps in the market-place ; so that any 
angry farmer inclining towards hot water, might tumble into it at once. 
Their special council-chamber and hall of conference was an old back 
room up stairs, with a low dark ceiling, which seemed to be knitting its 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 199 

brows gloomily in the consideration of tangled points of law. It was 
furnished with some high-backed leathern chairs, garnished with great 
goggle-eyed brass nails, of which, every here and there, two or three had 
fallen out ; or had been picked out, perhaps, by the wandering thumbs 
and forefingers of bewildered cHents. There was a framed print of a 
great judge in it, every curl in whose dreadful wig had made a man's hair 
stand on end. Bales of papers filled the dusty closets, shelves, and tables ; 
and round the wainscot there were tiers of boxes, padlocked and fire- 
proof, with people's names painted outside, which anxious visitors felt 
themselves, by a cruel enchantment, obliged to spell backwards and 
forwards, and to make anagrams of, while they sat, seeming to listen to 
Snitchey and Craggs, without comprehending one word of what they 
said. 

Snitchey and Craggs had each, in private life as in professional exist- 
ence, a partner of his own. Snitchey and Craggs were the best friends in 
the world, and had a real confidence in one another ; but Mrs. Snitchey, 
by a dispensation not uncommon in the afltairs of life, was, on principle, 
suspicious of Mr. Craggs ; and Mrs. Craggs was, on principle, suspicious 
of Mr. Snitchey. " Your Snitcheys indeed," the latter lady would 
observe, sometimes, to Mr. Craggs ; using that imaginative plural as if in 
disparagement of an objectionable pair of pantaloons, or other articles 
not possessed of a singular number ; " I don't see what you want with 
your Snitcheys, for my part. You trust a great deal too much to your 
Snitcheys, / think, and I hope you may never find my words come true." 
While Mrs. Snitchey would observe to Mr. Snitchey, of Craggs, " that 
if ever he was led away by man he was led away by that man ; and that 
if ever she read a double purpose in a mortal eye, she read that purpose in 
Craggs's eye." Notwithstanding this, however, they were all very good 
friends in general : and Mrs. Snitchey and Mrs. Craggs maintained a 
close bond of alHance against " the ofiice," which they both considered a 
Blue chamber, and common enemy, full of dangerous (because unknown) 
machinations. 

In this office, nevertheless, Snitchey and Craggs made honey for their 
several hives. Here sometimes they would hnger, of a fine evening, at 
the window of their council-chamber overlooking the old battle-ground, 
and wonder (but that was generally at assize time, when much business 
had made them sentimental) at the folly of mankind, who couldn't always 
be at peace with one another, and go to law comfortably. Here days, 
and weeks, and months, and years, passed over them ; their calendar, the 
gradually diminishing number of brass nails in the leathern chairs, and 
the increasing bulk of papers on the tables. Here nearly three years' 
flight had thinned the one and swelled the other, since the breakfast in 
the orchard ; when they sat together in consultation, at night. 

Not alone ; but with a man of thirty, or about that time of life, 
negligently dressed, and somewhat haggard in the face, but well-made, 
well-attired, and well-lcoking, who sat in the arm-chair of state, with one 



200 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

hand in his breast, and the other in his dishevelled hair, pondering 
moodily. Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs sat opposite each other at a 
neighbouring desk. One of the fire-proof boxes, unpadlocked and 
opened, was upon it ; a part of its contents lay strewn upon the table, 
and the rest was then in course of passing through the hands of Mr. 
Snitchey, who brought it to the candle, document by document, looked 
at every paper singly, as he produced it, shook his head, and handed it to 
Mr. Craggs, who looked it over also, shook his head, and laid it down. 
Sometimes they would stop, and shaking their heads in concert, look 
towards the abstracted client ; and the name on the box being Michael 
Warden, Esquire, we may conclude from these premises that the name 
and the box were both his, and that the affairs of Michael Warden, 
Esquire, were in a bad way. 

" That's all," said Mr. Snitchey, turning up the last paper. " Really 
there's no other resource. No other resource." 

" All lost, spent, wasted, pawned, borrowed, and sold, eh ? " said the 
client, looking up. 

" All," returned Mr. Snitchey. 

" Nothing else to be done, you say .? " 

" Nothing at aU." 

The chent bit his nails, and pondered again. 

" And I am not even personally safe in England .? You hold to that ; 
do you f " 

" In no part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland," 
replied Mr. Snitchey. 

" A mere prodigal son with no father to go back to, no swine to keep, 
and no husks to share with them f Eh .? " pursued the chent, rocking 
one leg over the other, and searching the ground with his eyes. 

Mr. Snitchey coughed, as if to deprecate the being supposed to 
participate in any figurative illustration of a legal position. Mr. Craggs, 
as if to express that it was a partnership view of the subject, also coughed. 

" Ruined at thirty ! " said the chent. " Humph ! " 

" Not ruined, Mr. Warden," returned Snitchey. " Not so bad as 
that. You have done a good deal towards it, I must say, but you are not 
ruined. A little nursing " 

" A Httle Devil," said the chent. 

" Mr. Craggs," said Snitchey, " will you oblige me with a pinch of 
snufit ? Thank you, sir." 

As the imperturbable lawyer applied it to his nose, with great apparent 
relish and a perfect absorption of his attention in the proceeding, the 
client gradually broke into a smile, and, looking up, said : 

" You talk of nursing. How long nursing .? " 

" How long nursing .? " repeated Snitchey, dusting the snuff from 
his fingers, and making a slow calculation in his mind. " For your in- 
volved estate, sir ? In good hands f S. and C.'s, say ? Six or seven 
years." 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 201 

" To starve for six or seven years ! " said the client with a fretful laugh 
and an impatient change of his position. 

" To starve for six or seven years, Mr. Warden," said Snitchey, " vi^ould 
be very uncommon indeed. You might get another estate by showin 
yourself, the w^hile. But we don't think you could do it — speaking K^^ 
Self and Craggs — and consequently don't advise it." 

" What do you advise ? " 

" Nursing, I say," repeated Snitchey. " Some few years of nurs ing by 
Self and Craggs would bring it round. But to enable us to make terms, 
and hold terms, and you to keep terms, you must go away, you must live 
abroad. As to starvation, we could ensure you some hundreds a year to 
starve upon, even in the beginning, I dare say, Mr. Warden." 

" Hundreds," said the client. '' And I have spent thousands ! " 

" That," retorted Mr. Snitchey, putting the papers slowly back into 
the cast-iron box, " there is no doubt about. No doubt a — bout," he 
repeated to himself, as he thoughtfully pursued his occupation. 

The lawyer very likely knew his man ; at any rate his dry, shrewd, 
whimsical manner, had a favourable influence upon the client's moody 
state, and disposed him to be more free and unreserved. Or perhaps the 
client knew his man, and had elicited such encouragement as he had 
received, to render some purpose he was about to disclose the more 
defensible in appearance. Gradually raising his head, he sat looking at 
his immovable adviser with a smile, w^ich presently broke into a laugh. 

" After all," he said, " my iron-headed friend " 

Mr. Snitchey pointed out his partner. " Self and — excuse me — 
Craggs." 

" I beg Mr. Craggs's pardon," said ^^e cHent. " After all, my iron- 
headed friends," he leaned forward in h^s chair, and dropped his voice a 
little, " you don't know half my ruin yet." 

Mr Snitchey stopped and stared at him. Mr. Craggs also stared. 

" I am not only deep in debt," said the client, " but I am deep in " 

" Not in love ! " cried Snitchey. 

" Yes ! " said the cHent, falling back in his chair, and surveying the 
Firm with his hands in his pockets. " Deep in love." 

" And not with an heiress, sir ? " said Snitchey. 

" Not with an heiress." ^ ,;; 

" Nor a rich lady ? " ■"'^' 

" Nor a rich lady that I know of — except in beauty and merit." 
" A single lady, I trust ? " said Mr. Snitchey, with great expression. 
" Certainly." 

" It's not one of Doctor Jeddler's daughters ? " said Snitchey, sud- 
denly squaring his elbows on his knees, and advancing his face at least a 
yard. 

" Yes ! " returned the client. 

" Not his younger daughter ? " said Snitchey. 

" Yes ! " returned the client. 

cc. g' 



202 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

" Mr. Craggs," said Snitchey, much relieved, " will you oblige me with 
another pinch of snuff ? Thank you. I am happy to say it don't 
signify, Mr. Warden ; she's engaged, sir, she's bespoke. My partner can 
corroborate me. We know the fact." 

" We know the fact," repeated Craggs. 

" Why, so do I perhaps," returned the cHent quietly. " What of that ! 
are you men of the world, and did you never hear of a woman changing 
her mind ? " 

" There certainly have been actions for breach," said Mr. Snitchey, 
" brought against both spinsters and widows, but, in the majority of 
cases " 

" Cases ! " interposed the cHent, impatiently. " Don't talk to me of 
cases. The general precedent is in a much larger volume than any of 
your law books. Besides, do you think I have lived six weeks in the 
Doctor's house for nothing ? " 

" I think, sir," observed Mr. Snitchey, gravely addressing himself to 
his partner, "' that of all the scrapes Mr. Warden's horses have brought 
him into at one time and another — and they have been pretty numerous, 
and pretty expensive, as none know better than himself and you and I — 
the worst scrape may turn out to be, if he talks in this way, his having 
been ever left by one of them at the Doctor's garden wall, with three 
broken ribs, a snapped collar-bone, and the Lord knows how many 
bruises. We didn't think so much of it, at the time when we knew he 
was going on well under the Doctor's hands and roof ; but it looks bad 
now, sir. Bad ! It looks very bad. Doctor Jeddler too — our cHent, 
Mr. Craggs." 

" Mr. Alfred Heathfield too — a sort of client, Mr. Snitchey," said 
Craggs. 

" Mr. Michael Warden too, a kind of chent," said the careless visitor, 
" and no bad one either ; having played the fool for ten or twelve years. 
However, Mr. Michael Warden has sown his wild oats now — there's their 
crop, in that box ; and he means to repent and be wise. And in proof 
of it, Mr. Michael Warden means, if he can, to marry Marion, the 
Doctor's lovely daughter, and to carry her away with him." 

" Really, Mr. Craggs," Snitchey began. 

" Really, Mr. Snitchey and Mr. Craggs, partners both," said the chent, 
interrupting him ; " you know your duty to your chents, and you know 
well enough, I am sure, that it is no part of it to interfere in a mere love 
affair, which I am obHged to confide to you. I am not going to carry the 
young lady off, without her own consent. There's nothing illegal in it. 
I never was Mr. Heathfield's bosom friend. I violate no confidence of 
his. I love where he loves, and I mean to win where he would win, if 
I can." 

" He can't, Mr. Craggs," said Snitchey, evidently anxious and dis- 
comfited. " He can't do it, sir. She dotes on Mr. Alfred." 

" Does she f " returned the chent. 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 203 

" Mr. Craggs, she dotes on him, sir," persisted Snitchey. 

" I didn't hve six weeks, some few months ago, in the Doctor's house 
for nothing ; and I doubted that soon," observed the cHent. " She 
would have doted on him, if her sister could have brought it about ; but 
I watched them. Marion avoided his name, avoided the subject : 
shrank from the least allusion to it, with evident distress." 

" Why should she, Mr. Craggs, you know ? Why should she, sir ? " 
inquired Snitchey. 

" I don't know why she should, though there are many Hkely reasons," 
said the chent, smiHng at the attention and perplexity expressed in 
Mr, Snitchey's shining eye, and at his cautious way of carrying on the 
conversation, and making himself informed upon the subject ; " but I 
know she does. She was very young when she made the engagement — if 
it may be called one, I am not even sure of that — and has repented of it, 
perhaps. Perhaps — it seems a foppish thing to say, but upon my soul I 
don't mean it in that light — she may have fallen in love with me, as I have 
fallen in love with her." 

" He, he ! Mr, Alfred, her old playfellow too, you remember Mr. 
Craggs," said Snitchey, with a disconcerted laugh ; " knew her almost 
from a baby ! " 

" Which makes it the more probable that she may be tired of his idea," 
calmly pursued the client, " and not indisposed to exchange it for the 
newer one of another lover, who presents himself (or is presented by his 
horse) under romantic circumstances ; has the not unfavourable reputa- 
tion — ^with a country girl — of having hved thoughtlessly and gaily, 
without doing much harm to anybody ; and who, for his youth and 
figure, and so forth — this may seem foppish again, but upon my soul I 
don't mean it in that light — might perhaps pass muster in a crowd with 
Mr. Alfred himself." 

There was no gainsaying the last clause, certainly ; and Mr. Snitchey, 
glancing at him, thought so. There was something naturally graceful 
and pleasant in the very carelessness of his air. It seemed to suggest, of 
his comely face and well-knit figure, that they might be greatly better if 
he chose : and that, once roused and made earnest (but he never had 
been earnest yet), he could be full of fire and purpose. " A dangerous 
sort of libertine," thought the shrewd hwyei, " to seem to catch the 
spark he wants from a young lady's eyes." 

" Now, observe, Snitchey," he continued, arising and taking him by the 
button, " and Craggs," taking him by the button also, and placing one 
partner on either side of him, so that neither might evade him. " I don't 
ask you for any advice. You are right to keep quite aloof from all parties 
in such a matter, which is not one in which grave men like you could 
interfere, on any side. I am briefly going to review in half-a-dozen 
words, my position and intention, and then I shall leave it to you to do 
the best for me, in money matters, that you can : seeing, that, if I run 
away with the Doctor's beautiful daughter (as I hope to do, and to 



204 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

become another man under her bright influence), it will be, for the 
moment, more chargeable than running away alone. But I shall soon 
make all that up in an altered life." 

" I think it will be better not to hear this, Mr. Craggs ? " said Snitchey, 
looking at him across the client. 

" I think not," said Craggs, — Both listening attentively. 

" Well ! You needn't hear it," repHed their cHent. " I'll mention 
it, however. I don't mean to ask the Doctor's consent, because he 
wouldn't give it me. But I mean to do the Doctor no wrong or harm, 
because (besides there being nothing serious in such trifles, as he says) I 
hope to rescue his child, my Marion, from what I see — I know — she dreads 
and contemplates with misery : that is, the return of this old lover. If 
anything in the world is true, it is true that she dreads his return. No- 
body is injured so far. I am so harried and worried here just now, that 
I lead the life of a flying-Ash ; skulk about in the dark, am shut out of my 
own house, and warned off my own grounds : but that house, and those 
grounds, and many an acre besides, will come back home one day, as you 
know and say ; and Marion will probably be richer — on your showing, 
who are never sanguine — ten years hence as my wife, than as the wife of 
Alfred Heathfield, whose return she dreads (remember that), and in 
whom or in any man, my passion is not surpassed. Wlio is injured yet ? 
It is a fair case throughout. My right is as good as his, if she decide in 
my favour ; and I will try my right by her alone. You will like to know 
no more after this, and I will tell you no more. Now you know my 
purpose, and wants. When must I leave here ? " 

" In a week," said Snitchey. " Mr. Craggs .? " 

" In something less, I should say," responded Craggs. 

" In a month," said the cHent, after attentively watching the two 
faces. " This day month. To-day is Thursday. Succeed or fail, on 
this day month I go." 

" It's too long a delay," said Snitchey ; " much too long. But let it 
be so. I thought he'd have stipulated for three," he murmured to 
himself. " Are you going ? Good night, sir." 

" Good night ! " returned the chent, shaking hands with the Firm. 
" You'll Hve to see me making a good use of riches yet. Henceforth, the 
star of my destiny is, Marion ! " 

" Take care of the stairs, sir," replied Snitchey ; " for she don't shine 
there. Good night ! " 

" Good night ! " 

So they both stood at the stair-head with a pair of office-candles, watch- 
ing him down ; and when he had gone away, stood looking at each other. 

'"' What do you think of all this, Mr. Craggs ? " said Snitchey. 

Mr. Craggs shook his head. 

" It was our opinion, on the day when that release was executed, that 
there was something curious in the parting of that pair, I recollect," 
said Snitchev. 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 205 

" It was," said Mr. Craggs. 

" Perhaps he deceives himself altogether," pursued Mr. Snitchey, 
locking up the fireproof box, and putting it away ; " or if he don't, a 
little bit of fickleness and perfidy is not a miracle, Mr. Craggs. And yet 
I thought that pretty face was very true. I thought," said Mr. Snitchey, 
putting on his great-coat (for the weather was very cold), drawdng on his 
gloves and snuffing out one candle, " that I had even seen her character 
becoming stronger and more resolved of late. More like her sister's." 

" Mrs. Craggs was of the same opinion," returned Craggs. 

" I'd really give a trifle to-night," observed Mr. Snitchey, who was a 
good-natured man, " if I could believe that Mr. Warden was reckoning 
without his host ; but light-headed, capricious, and unballasted as he is, 
he knows something of the world and its people (he ought to, for he has 
bought what he does know, dear enough) ; and I can't quite think that. 
We had better not interfere : we can do nothing, Mr. Craggs, but keep 
quiet." 

" Nothing," returned Craggs. 

" Our friend the Doctor makes light of such things," said Mr. Snitchey, 
shaking his head. " T hope he mayn't stand in need of his philosophy. 
Our friend Alfred talks of the battle of life," he shook his head again, " I 
hope he mayn't be cut down early in the day. Have you got your hat, 
Mr. Craggs ? I am going to put the other candle out." 

Mr. Craggs replying in the affirmative, Mr. Snitchey suited the action 
to the word, and they groped their way out of the council-chamber : 
now as dark as the subject, or the law in general. 

My story passes to a quiet little study, where, on that same night, the 
sisters and the hale old Doctor sat by a cheerful fireside. Grace was 
working at her needle. Marion read aloud from a book before her. 
The Doctor, in his dressing-gown and slippers, vdth his feet spread out 
upon the warm rug, leaned back in his easy-chair, and listened to the 
book, and looked upon his daughters. 

They were very beautiful to look upon. Two better faces for a fire- 
side, never made a fireside bright and sacred. Something of the differ- 
ence between them had been softened down in three years' time ; 
and enthroned upon the clear brow of the younger sister, looking through 
her eyes, and thrilling in her voice, was the same earnest nature that her 
own motherless youth had ripened in the elder sister long ago. But she 
still appeared at once the lovelier and weaker of the two ; still seemed to 
rest her head upon her sister's breast, and put her trust in her, and look 
into her eyes for counsel and rehance. Those loving eyes, so calm, 
serene, and cheerful, as of old. 

" ' And being in her own home,' " read Marion, from the book ; 
" ' her home made exquisitely dear by these remembrances, she now 
began to know that the great trial of her heart must soon come on, and 
could not be delayed. Oh Home our comforter and friend when others 



2o6 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

fall away, to part with whom, at any step between the cradle and the 

grave ' " 

" Marion, my love ! " said Grace. 

" Why, Puss ! " exclaimed her father, " what's the matter ? " 
She put her hand upon the hand her sister stretched towards her, 
and read on ; her voice stiU faltering and trembhng, though she made 
an effort to command it when thus interrupted. 

" ' — To part with whom, at any step between the cradle and the grave, 
is always sorrowful. Oh Home, so true to us, so often slighted in return, 
be lenient to them that turn away from thee, and do not haunt their 
erring footsteps too reproachfully ! Let no kind looks, no well- 
remembered smiles, be seen upon thy phantom face. Let no ray of 
affection, welcome, gentleness, forbearance, cordiality, shine from thy 
white head. Let no old loving word or tone rise up in judgment against 
thy deserter ; but if thou canst look harshly and severely, do, in mercy 
to the Penitent ! ' " 

" Dear Marion, read no more to-night," said Grace — for she was 
weeping. 

" I cannot," she replied, and closed the book. " The words seem all 
on fire ! " 

The Doctor was amused at this ; and laughed as he patted her on the 
head. 

" What ! overcome by a story-book ! " said Doctor Jeddler. " Print 
and paper ! Well, well, it's all one. It's as rational to make a serious 
matter of print and paper as of anything else. But dry your eyes, love, 
dry your eyes. I dare say the heroine has got home again long ago, and 
made it up all round — and if she hasn't, a real home is only four walls ; 
and a fictitious one, mere rags and ink. What's the matter now f " 

" It's only me, mister," said Clemency, putting in her head at the door. 

" And what's the matter with you F " said the Doctor. 

" Oh, bless you, nothing an't the matter with me," returned Clemency 
— and truly too, to judge from her well-soaped face, in which there 
gleamed as usual the very soul of good humour, which, ungainly as she 
was, made her quite engaging. Abrasions on the elbows are not generally 
understood, it is true, to range within that class of personal charms called 
beauty-spots. But it is better, going through the world, to have the 
arms chafed in that narrow passage, than the temper : and Clemency's 
was sound and whole as any beauty's in the land. 

" Nothing an't the matter with me," said Clemency, entering, " but — 
come a little closer, mister." 

The Doctor, in some astonishment, complied with this invitation. 

" You said I wasn't to give you one before them, you know," said 
Clemency. 

A novice in the family might have supposed, from her extraordinary 
ogling as she said it, as well as from a singular rapture or ecstasy which 
pervaded her elbows, as if she were embracing herself, that " one," in its 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 207 

most favourable interpretation, meant a chaste salute. Indeed the 
Doctor himself seemed alarmed, for the moment ; but quickly regained 
his composure, as Clemency, having had recourse to both her pockets — 
beginning with the right one, going away to the wrong one, and after- 
wards coming, back to the right one again — produced a letter from the 
Post-office. 

" Britain was riding by on a errand," she chuckled, handing it to the 
Doctor, " and see the Mail come in, and waited for it. There's A. H. 
in the corner. Mr. Alfred's on his journey home, I bet. We shall have 
a wedding in the house — there was two spoons in my saucer this morning. 
Oh Luck, how slow he opens it ! " 

All this she delivered, by way of soliloquy, gradually rising higher and 
higher on tiptoe, in her impatience to hear the news, and making a 
corkscrew of her apron, and a bottle of her mouth. At last, arriving at a 
climax of suspense, and seeing the Doctor still engaged in the perusal of 
the letter, she came down flat upon the soles of her feet again, and cast 
her apron, as a veil, over her head, in a mute despair, and inabihty to bear 
it any longer. 

" Here ! Girls ! " cried the Doctor. " I can't help it : I never could 
keep a secret in my life. There are not many secrets, indeed, worth being 
kept in such a— well ! never mind that. Alfred's coming home, my 
dears, directly." 

" Directly ! " exclaimed Marion. 

" What ! The story-book is soon forgotten ! " said the Doctor, 
pinching her cheek. " I thought the news would dry those tears. Yes. 
* Let it be a surprise,' he says, here. But I can't let it be a surprise. He 
must have a welcome." 

" Directly ! " repeated Marion. 

" Why, perhaps not what your impatience calls ' directly,' " returned 
the Doctor ; " but pretty soon too. Let us see. Let us see. To-day 
is Thursday, is it not .? Then he promises to be here, this day month." 

" This day month ! " repeated Marion, softly. 

" A gay day and a holiday for us," said the cheerful voice of her sister 
Grace, kissing her in congratulation. " Long looked forward to, 
dearest, and come at last." 

She answered with a smile ; a mournful smile, but full of sisterly 
affection : and as she looked in her sister's face, and listened to the quiet 
music of her voice, picturing the happiness of this return, her own face 
glowed with hope and joy. 

And with a something else : a something shining more and more 
through all the rest of its expression : for which I have no name. It was 
not exultation, triumph, proud enthusiasm. They are not so calmly 
shown. It was not love and gratitude alone, though love and gratitude 
were part of it. It emanated from no sordid thought, for sordid 
thoughts do not light up the brow, and hover on the lips, and move the 
spirit, Hke a fluttered li ht, until the sympathetic figure trembles 



2o8 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

Doctor Jeddler, in spite of his system of philosophy — ^which he was 
continually contradicting and denying in practice, but more famous 
philosophers have done that— could not help having as much interest in 
the return of his old ward and pupil, as if it had been a serious event. So 
he sat himself down in his easy-chair again, stretched out his sHppered 
feet once more upon the rug, read the letter over and over a great many 
times, and talked it over more times still. 

" Ah ! The day was," said the Doctor, looking at the fire, " when 
you and he, Grace, used to trot about arm-in-arm, in his hoHday time, 
like a couple of walking dolls. You remember .? " 

" I remember," she answered, with her pleasant laugh, and plying her 
needle busily. 

" This day month, indeed ? " mused the Doctor. " That hardly 
seems a twelvemonth ago. And where was my little Marion then ! " 

" Never far from her sister," said Marion, cheerily, " however httle. 
Grace was everything to me, even when she was a young child herself." 

" True, Puss, true," returned the Doctor. " She was a staid Httle 
woman, was Grace, and a wise housekeeper, and a busy, quiet, pleasant 
body ; bearing with our humours and anticipating our wishes, and always 
ready to forget her own, even in those times. I never knew you positive 
or obstinate, Grace, my darhng, even then, on any subject but one." 

" I am afraid I have changed sadly for the worse, since," laughed 
Grace, still busy at her work. " What was that one, father ? " 

" Alfred, of course," said the Doctor. " Nothing would serve you 
but you must be called Alfred's wife ; so we called you Alfred's wife ; 
and you liked it better, I believe (odd as it seems now), than being called 
a Duchess, if we could have made you one." 

" Indeed ! " said Grace, placidly. 

" Why, don't you remember .? " inquired the Doctor. 

" I think I remember something of it," she returned, " but not much. 
It's so long ago." And as she sat at work, she hummed the burden of an 
old song, which the Doctor hked. 

" Alfred will find a real wife soon," she said, breaking oif ; " and that 
will be a happy time indeed for all of us. My three years' trust is nearly 
at an end, Marion. It has been a very easy one. I shall tell Alfred, 
when I give you back to him, that you have loved him dearly all the time, 
and that he has never once needed my good services. May I tell him 
so. love .? " 

" Tell him, dear Grace," repHed Marion, " that there never was a 
trust so generously, nobly, steadfastly discharged ; and that I have loved 
yoM, all the time, dearer and dearer every day ; and Oh ! how dearly 
now ! " 

" Nay," said her cheerful sister, returning her embrace, " I can 
scarcely tell him that ; we will leave my deserts to Alfred's imagination. 
It will be liberal enough, dear Marion ; like your own." 
With that she resumed the work she had for a moment laid down, when 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 209 

her sister spoke so fervently : and with it the old song the Doctor liked 
to hear. And the Doctor, still reposing in his easy-chair, with his 
slippered feet stretched out before him on the rug, listened to the tune, 
and beat time on his knee with Alfred's letter, and looked at his two 
daughters, and thought that among the many trifles of the trifling world, 
these trifles were agreeable enough. 

Clemency Newcome, in the meantime, having accomplished her 
mission and lingered in the room until she had made herself a party to 
the news, descended to the kitchen, where her coadjutor, Mr. Britain, 
was regaling after supper, surrounded by such a plentiful collection of 
bright pothds, well-scoured saucepans, burnished dinner-covers, gleaming 
kettles, and other tokens of her industrious habits, arranged upon the 
walls and shelves, that he sat as in the centre of a hall of mirrors. The 
majority did not give forth very flattering portraits of him, certainly ; 
nor were they by any means unanimous in their reflections ; as some made 
him very long-faced, others very broad-faced, some tolerably well- 
looking, others vastly ill-looking ; according to their several manners of 
reflecting : which were as various, in respect of one fact, as those of so 
many kinds of men. But they all agreed that in the midst of them sat, 
quite at his ease, an individual with a pipe in his mouth, and a jug of beer 
at his elbow, who nodded condescendingly to Clemency, when she 
stationed herself at the same table. 

" Well, Clemmy," said Britain, " how are you by this time, and what's 
the news ? " 

Clemency told him the news, which he received very graciously. A 
gracious change had come over Benjamin from head to foot. He was 
much broader, much redder, much more cheerful, and much jollier in all 
respects. It seemed as if his face had been tied up in a knot before, and 
was now untwisted and smoothed out. 

" There'll be another job for Snitchey and Craggs, I suppose," he 
observed, pufiing slowly at his pipe. " More witnessing for you and me, 
perhaps, Clemmy ! " 

" Lor ! " repHed his fair companion, with her favourite twist of her 
favourite joints. " I vdsh it was me, Britain ! " 

" Wish what was you ? " 

" A going to be married," said Clemency. 

Benjamin took his pipe out of his mouth and laughed heartily. " Yes ! 
you're a likely subject for that ! " he said. " Poor Clem ! " Clemency 
for her part laughed as heartily as he, and seemed as much amused 
by the idea. " Yes," she assented, " I'm a likely subject for that ; 
an't I ? " 

" Tou^Yl never be married, you know," said Mr. Britain, resuming his 
pipe. 

" Don't you think I ever shall though ? " said Clemency, in perfect 
good faith. 

Mr. Britain shook his head. " Not a chance of it ! " 



210 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

;' Onlj. think ! » said Clemency. " WeU !-I suppose you mean to, 
i^ritam, one of these days ; don't you ? " 

A question so abrupt, upon a subject so momentous, required con- 
sideration. After blowing out a great cloud of smoke, and looking at it 
with his head now on this side and now on that, as if it were actuaUy the 
question, and he were surveying it in various aspects, Mr. Britain replied 
that he wasnt altogether clear about it, but— ye-es— he thought he 
might come to that at last. 

II I wish her joy, whoever she may be ! " cried Clemency. 

" Oh she'll have that," said Benjamin ; " safe enough."' 

" But she wouldn't have led quite such a joyful hfe as she will lead, and 
wouldn t have had quite such a sociable sort of husband as she wiU have " 
said Clemency, spreading herseH half over the table, and staring retro- 
spectively at the candle, " if it hadn't been for— not that I went to do it 
tor It was_ accidental, I am sure— if it hadn't been for me ; now would 
she, Britain f " 

" Certainly not," returned Mr. Britain, by this time in that high state 
ot appreciation of his pipe, when a man can open his mouth but a very 
little way for speaking purposes ; and sitting luxuriouslv immovable in 
his chair, can afford to turn only his eves towards a companion, and that 
very passively and gravely. " Oh ! I'm greatly beholden to you, you 
know, Clem." / ' / 

" Lor, how nice that is to think of ! " said Clemency. 

At the same time, bringing her thoughts as weU as her sight to bear 
upon the candle-grease, and becoming abruptlv reminiscent of its 
healing quahties as a balsam, she anointed her left elbow with a plentiful 
apphcation of that remedy. 

"You see I've made a good many investigations of one sort and 
another in my time," pursued Mr. Britain, with the profundity of a sage ; 

having been always of an inquiring turn of mind ; and I've read a good 
many books about the general Rights of things and Wrongs of things, for 
1 went into the literary Hne myself, when I began life." 

II Did you though ! " cried the admiring Clemency. 

"Yes," said Mr. Britain ; " I was hid for the best part of two years 
behind a bookstall, ready to fly out if anybody pocketed a volume ; and 
after that, I was light porter to a stay and mantua-maker, in which 
capacity I was employed to carry^ about, in oilskin baskets, nothing but 
deceptions— which soured my spirits and disturbed my confidence in 
human nature ; and after that, I heard a world of discussions in this 
house, which soured my spirits fresh ; and my opinion after all is, that, 
as a safe and comfortable sweetener of the same, and as a pleasant' guide 
through life, there's nothing Hke a nutmeg-grater." 

Clemency was about to offer a suggestion, but he stopped her by 
anticipating it. 

II Com-bined," he added gravely, " with a thimble." 

" Do as you wold, you know, and cetrer, eh ! " observed Clemency 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE 211 

folding her arms comfortably in her dehght at this avowal, and patting 
her elbows. " Such a short cut, an't it ? " 

" I'm not sure," said Mr. Britain, " that it's what would be considered 
good philosophy. I've my doubts about that : but it wears well, and 
saves a quantity of snarhng, which the genuine article don't always." 

" See how you used to go on once, yourself, you know ! " said Clemency. 

" Ah ! " said Mr. Britain. " But the most extraordinary thing, 
Clemmy, is that I should live to be brought round, through you. That's 
the strange part of it. Through you ! Why, I suppose you haven't so 
much as half an idea in your head." 

Clemency, without taking the least offence, shook it, and laughed, and 
hugged herself, and said, " No, she didn't suppose she had." 

" I'm pretty sure of it," said Mr. Britain. 

" Oh ! I dare say you're right," said Clemency. " I don't pretend 
to none. I don't want any." 

Benjamin took his pipe from his lips, and laughed till the tears ran 
down his face. " What a natural you are, Clemmy ! " he said, shaking 
his head, with an infinite relish of the joke, and wiping his eyes. Clem- 
ency, without the smallest incHnation to dispute it, did the like, and 
laughed as heartily as he. 

" But I can't help liking you," said Mr. Britain ; " you're a regular 
good creature in your way ; so shake hands, Clem. Whatever happens, 
I'll always take notice of you, and be a friend to you." 

" Will you ? " returned Clemency. " Well ! that's very good of 
you." 

" Yes, yes," said Mr. Britain, giving her his pipe to knock the ashes out 
of ; " I'll stand by you. Hark ! That's a curious noise ! " 

" Noise ! " repeated Clemency. 

" A footstep outside. Somebody dropping from the wall, it sounded 
like," said Britain. " Aie they all abed up stairs ? " 

" Yes, all abed by this time," she replied. 

" Didn't you hear anything ? " 

" No." 

They both listened, but heard nothing. 

" I tell you what," said Benjamin, taking down a lantern. " I'll have 
a look round before I go to bed myself, for satisfaction's sake. Undo the 
door while I Hght this, Clemmy." 

Clemency complied briskly ; but observed as she did so, that he would 
only have his walk for his pains, that it was all his fancy, and so forth. 
Mr. Britain said " very likely ; " but sallied out, nevertheless, armed with 
the poker, and casting the hght of the lantern far and near in all direc- 
tions. 

" It's as quiet as a churchyard," said Clemency, looking after him ; 
" and almost as ghostly too ! " 

Glancing back into the kitchen, she cried fearfully, as a light figure 
stole into her view, " What's that ! " 



212 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

*•' Hush ! " said Marion, in an agitated whisper. " You have always 
loved me, have you not ! " 

" Loved you, child ! You may be sure I have." 

" I am sure. And I may trust you, may I not ? There is no one else 
just now, in whom I can trust." 

" Yes," said Clemency, \nth. all her heart. 

" There is some one out there," pointing to the door, " whom I must 
see, and speak with, to-night. Michael Warden, for God's sake retire ! 
Not now ! " 

Clemency started with surprise and trouble as, following the direction 
of the speaker's eyes, she saw a dark figure standing in the doorway. 

" In another moment you may be discovered," said Marion. " Not 
now ! Wait, if you can, in some concealment. I will come, presently." 
He waved his hand to her, and was gone. 

" Don't go to bed. Wait here for me ! " said Marion, hurriedly. " I 
have been seeking to speak to you for an hour past. Oh, be true to me ! " 

Eagerly seizing her bewildered hand, and pressing it with both her 
own to her breast — an action more expressive, in its passion of entreaty, 
than the most eloquent appeal in words, — Marion withdrew ; as the 
light of the returning lantern flashed into the room. 

" All still and peaceable. Nobody there. Fancy, I suppose," said 
Mr. Britain, as he locked and barred the door. " One of the effects of 
having a lively imagination. Halloa ! WTiy, what's the matter ? " 

Clemency, who could not conceal the effects of her surprise and 
concern, was sitting in a chair : pale, and trembling from head to foot. 

" Matter ! " she repeated, chafing her hands and elbows, nervously, 
and looking anywhere but at him. " That's good in you, Britain, that 
is ! After going and frightening one out of one's life v^dth noises, and 
lanterns, and I don't know what all. Matter ! Oh, yes ! " 

" If you're frightened out of your life by a lantern, Clemmy," said 
Mr. Britain, composedly blovdng it out and hanging it up again, " that 
apparition's very soon got rid of. But you're as bold as brass in general," 
he said, stopping to observe her ; " and were, after the noise and the 
lantern too. What have you taken into your head ? Not an idea, eh ? " 

But, as Clemency bade him good night very much after her usual 
fashion, and began to bustle about with a show of going to bed herself 
immediately. Little Britain, after giving uettrance to the original remark 
that it was impossible to account for a woman's whims, bade her good night 
in return, and taking up his candle strolled drowsily away to bed. 

When all was quiet, Marion returned. 

" Open the door," she said ; " and stand there close beside me, while 
I speak to him, outside." 

Timid as her manner was, it still evinced a resolute and settled 
purpose, such as Clemency could not resist. She softly unbarred the 
door : but before turning the key, looked round on the young creature 
waiting to issue forth when she should open it. 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE 213 

The face was not averted or cast down, but looking full upon her, in 
its pride of youth and beauty. Some simple sense of the shghtness of the 
barrier that interposed itself between the happy home and honoured love 
of the fair girl, and what might be the desolation of that home, and ship- 
wreck of its dearest treasure, smote so keenly on the tender heart of 
Clemency, and so filled it to overflowing with sorrow and compassion, 
that, bursting into tears, she threw her arms round Marion's neck. 

" It's little that I know, my dear," cried Clemency, " very Httle ; but 
I know that this should not be. Think of what you do ! " 

" I have thought of it many times," said Marion, gently. 

" Once more," urged Clemency. " Till- to-morrow." 

Marion shook her head. 

" For Mr. Alfred's sake," said Clemency, with homely earnestness. 
" Him that you used to love so dearly, once ! " 

She hid her face, upon the instant, in her hands, repeating " Once ! " 
as if it rent her heart. 

" Let me go out," said Clemency, soothing her. " I'll tell him what 
you like. Don't cross the door-step to-night. I'm sure no good will 
come of it. Oh, it was an unhappy day when Mr. Warden was ever 
brought here ! Think of your good father, darhng : of your sister." 

" I have," said Marion, hastily raising her head. " You don't know 
what I do. I must speak to him. You are the best and truest friend in 
all the world for what you have said to me, but I must take this step. 
Will you go with me. Clemency," she kissed her on her friendly face, " or 
shall I go alone ? " 

Sorrowing and wondering. Clemency turned the key, and opened the 
door. Into the dark and doubtful night that lay beyond the threshold, 
Marion passed quickly, holding by her hand. 

In the dark night he joined her, and they spoke together earnestly and 
long : and the hand that held so fast by Clemency's, now trembled, now 
turned deadly cold, now clasped and closed on hers, in the strong feeling 
of the speech it emphasised unconsciously. When they returned he 
follov/ed to the door ; and pausing there a moment, seized the other 
hand, and pressed it to his lips. Then stealthily withdrew. 

The door was barred and locked again, and once again she stood 
beneath her father's roof. Not bowed down by the secret that she 
brought there, though so young ; but with that same expression on her 
face, for which I had no name before, and. shining through her tears. 

Again she thanked and thanked her humble friend, and trusted to her, 
as she said, with confidence, implicitly. Her chamber safely reached, 
she fell upon her knees ; and with her secret weighing on her heart, 
could pray ! 

Could rise up from her prayers, so tranquil and serene, and bending 
over her fond sister in her slumber, look upon her face and smile : 
though sadly : murmuring as she kissed her forehead, how that Grace 
had been a mother to her, ever, and she loved her as a child ! 



214 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

Could draw the passive arm about her neck when lying down to rest — 
it seemed to cling there, of its own will, protectingly and tenderly even 
in sleep — and breathe upon the parted lips, God bless her ! 

Could sink into a peaceful sleep, herself ; but for one dream, in which 
she cried out, in her innocent and touching voice, that she was quite 
alone, and they had all forgotten her. 

A month soon passes, even at its tardiest pace. The month appointed 
to elapse between that night and the return, was quick of foot, and went 
by, like a vapour. 

The day arrived. A raging winter day, that shook the old house, 
sometimes, as if it shivered in the blast. A day to make home doubly 
home. To give the chimney corner new delights. To shed a ruddier 
glow upon the faces gathered round the hearth ; and draw each fireside 
group into a closer and more social league, against the roaring elements 
without. Such a wild winter day as best prepares the way for shut-out 
night ; for curtained rooms, and cheerful looks ; for music, laughter, 
dancing, light, and jovial entertainment ! 

All these the Doctor had in store to welcome Alfred back. They 
knew that he could not arrive till night ; and they would make the night 
air ring, he said, as he approached. All his old friends should congregate 
about him. He should not miss a face that he had known and liked. 
No ! They should every one be there ! 

So, guests were bidden, and musicians were engaged, and tables spread, 
and floors prepared for active feet, and bountiful provision made, of 
every hospitable kind. Because it was the Christmas season, and his eyes 
were all unused to EngHsh holly and its sturdy green, the dancing-room 
was garlanded and hung with it ; and the red berries gleamed an Enghsh 
welcome to him, peeping from among the leaves. 

It was a busy day for all of them : a busier day for none of them than 
Grace, who noiselessly presided everywhere, and was the cheerful mind 
of all the preparations. Many a time that day (as well as many a time 
within the fleeting month preceding it), did Clemency glance anxiously, 
and almost fearfully, at Marion. She saw her paler, perhaps, than usual ; 
but there was a sweet composure on her face, that made it loveher than 
ever. 

At night when she was dressed, and wore upon her head a wreath that 
Grace had proudly twined about it — its mimic flowers were Alfred's 
favourites, as Grace remembered when she chose them — that old 
expression, pensive, almost sorrowful, and yet so spiritual, high, and 
stirring, sat again upon her brow, enhanced a hundred-fold. 

" The next wreath I adjust on this fair head, will be a marriage 
wreath," said Grace ; " or I am no true prophet, dear." 

Her sister smiled, and held her in her arms. 

" A moment, Grace. Don't leave me yet. Are you sure that I want 
nothing more ? " 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 215 

Her care was not for that. It was her sister's face she thought of, and 
her eyes were fixed upon it, tenderly. 

" My art," said Grace, " can go no farther, dear girl ; nor your beauty. 
I never saw you look so beautiful as now." 

" I never was so happy," she returned. 

" Ay, but there is greater happiness in store. In such another home, 
as cheerful and as bright as this looks now," said Grace, " Alfred and his 
young wife will soon be living." 

She smiled again. " It is a happy hom.e, Grace, in your fancy. I can 
see it in your eyes. I know it will be happy, dear. How glad I am to 
know it." 

" Well," cried the Doctor, busthng in. " Here we are, all ready for 
Alfred, eh ? He can't be here until pretty late — an hour or so before 
midnight — so there'll be plenty of time for making merry before he 
comes. He'll not find us with the ice unbroken. Pile up the fire here, 
Britain ! Let it shine upon the holly till it winks again. It's a world of 
nonsense. Puss ; true lovers and all the rest of it — all nonsense ; but we'll 
be nonsensical with the rest of 'em, and give our true lover a mad 
welcome. Upon my word ! " said the old Doctor, looking at his 
daughters proudly, " I'm not clear to-night, among other absurdities, 
but that I'm the father of two handsome girls." 

" All that one of them has ever done, or may do — may do, dearest 
father — to cause you pain or grief, forgive her," said Marion : " forgive 
her now, when her heart is full. Say that you forgive her. That you 
will forgive her. That she shall always share your love, and — ," and 
the rest was not said, for her face was hidden on the old man's shoulder. 

" Tut, tut, tut," said the Doctor, gently. " Forgive ! What have I 
to forgive 1 Heydey, if our true lovers come back to flurry us like this, 
we must hold 'em at a distance ; we must send expresses out to stop 'em 
short upon the road, and bring 'em on a mile or two a day, until we're 
properly prepared to meet 'em. Kiss me, Puss. Forgive ! Why, what 
a silly child you are. If you had vexed and crossed me fifty times a day, 
instead of not at all, I'd forgive you everything, but such a supplication ! 
Kiss me again. Puss. There ! Prospective and retrospective — a clear 
score between us. Pile up the fire here ! Would you freeze the people 
on this bleak December night ! Let us be light, and warm, and merry, 
or I'll not forgive some of you ! " 

So gaily the old Doctor carried it ! And the fire was piled up, and the 
lights were bright, and company arrived, and a murmuring of lively 
tongues began, and already there was a pleasant air of cheerful excitement 
stirring through all the house. 

More and more company came flocking in. Bright eyes sparkled upon 
Marion ; smihng hps gave her joy of his return ; sage mothers fanned 
themselves, and hoped she mightn't be too youthful and inconstant for 
the quiet round of home ; impetuous fathers fell into disgrace for too 
much exaltation of her beauty ; daughters envied her ; sons envied 



2i6 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

him ; innumerable pairs of lovers profited by the occasion ; all were 
interested, animated, and expectant. 

Mr. and Mrs. Craggs came arm in arm, but Mrs. Snitchey came alone. 
" Why, what's become of him F " inquired the Doctor. 

The feather of a Bird of Paradise in Mrs. Snitchey's turban trembled 
as if the Bird of Paradise were alive again, when she said that doubtless 
Mr. Craggs knew. She was never told. 

" That nasty office," said Mrs. Craggs. 

" I wish it was burnt down," said Mrs. Snitchey. 

" He's — ^he's — there's a little matter of business that keeps my partner 
rather late," said Mr. Craggs, looking uneasily about him. 

" Oh — h ! Business. Don't tell me ! " said Mrs Snitchey. 

" We know what business means," said Mrs. Craggs. 

But their not knowing what it meant, was perhaps the reason why 
Mrs, Snitchey's Bird of Paradise feather quivered so portentously, and 
all the pendant bits on Mrs. Craggs's ear-rings shook like little bells. 

" I wonder you could come away, Mr. Craggs," said his wife. 

" Mr. Craggs is fortunate, I'm sure ! " said Mrs. Snitchey. 

" That office so engrosses 'em," said Mrs. Craggs. 

" A person with an office has no business to be married at all," said 
Mrs. Snitchey. 

Then, Mrs. Snitchey said, within herself, that that look of hers had 
pierced to Craggs's soul, and he knew it : and Mrs. Craggs observed, to 
Craggs, that " his Snitcheys " were deceiving him behind his back, and 
he would find it out when it was too late. 

Still, Mr. Craggs, without much heeding these remarks, looked 
uneasily about him until his eye rested on Grace, to whom he imme- 
diately presented himself. 

" Good evening, ma'am," said Craggs. " You look charmingly. 
Your — Miss — ^your sister. Miss Marion, is she " 

" Oh she's quite well, Mr. Craggs." 

" Yes — I — is she here ? " asked Craggs. 

" Here ! Don't you see her yonder ? Going to dance ? " said Grace. 

Mr. Craggs put on his spectacles to see the better ; looked at her 
through them, for some time ; coughed ; and put them, with an air of 
satisfaction, in their sheath again, and in his pocket. 

Now the music struck up, and the dance commenced. The bright 
fire crackled and sparkled, rose and fell, as though it joined the dance 
itself, in right good fellowship. Sometimes it roared as if it would make 
music too. Sometimes it flashed and beamed as it it were the eye of the 
old room : it winked too, sometimes, like a knowing patriarch, upon the 
youthful whisperers in corners. Sometimes it sported with the holly- 
boughs ; and, shining on the leaves by fits and starts, made them look 
as if they were in the cold winter night again, and fluttering in the wind. 
Sometimes its genial humour grew obstreperous, and passed all bounds ; 
and then it cast into the room, among the twinkling feet, with a loud 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 217 

burst, a shower of harmless Httle sparks, and in its exultation leaped and 
bounded, like a mad thing, up the broad old chimney. 

Another dance was near its close, when Mr. Snitchey touched his 
partner, who was looking on, upon the arm. 

Mr. Craggs started, as if his famiHar had been a spectre. 

" Is he gone ? " he asked. 

" Hush ! He has been with me," said Snitchey, " for three hours 
and more. He went over everything. He looked into all our arrange- 
ments for him, and was very particular indeed. He — Humph 1 " 

The dance was finished. Marion passed close before him, as he spoke. 
She did not observe him, or his partner ; but looked over her shoulder 
towards her sister in the distance, as she slowly made her way into the 
crowd, and passed out of their view. 

" You see ! All safe and well," said Mr. Craggs. " He didn't recur 
to that subject, I suppose ? " 

" Not a word." 

" And is he really gone ? Is he safe away ? " 

" He keeps to his word. He drops down the river with the tide in 
that shell of a boat of his, and so goes out to sea on this dark night — a 
dare-devil he is — before the wind. There's no such lonely road any- 
where else. That's one thing. The tide flows, he says, an hour before 
midnight about this time. I'm glad it's over." Mr. Snitchey wiped 
his forehead, which looked hot and anxious. 

" What do you think," said Mr. Craggs, " about " 

" Hush ! " replied his cautious partner, looking straight before him. 
" I understand you. Don't mention names, and don't let us seem to 
be talking secrets. I don't know what to think ; and to tell you the 
truth, I don't care now. It's a great rehef . His seK-love deceived him, 
I suppose. Perhaps the young lady coquetted a little. The evidence 
would seem to point that way. Alfred not arrived ? " 

" Not yet," said Mr. Craggs. " Expected every minute." 

" Good." Mr. Snitchey wiped his forehead again. " It's a great 
relief. I haven't been so nervous since we've been in partnership. I 
intend to spend the evening now, Mr. Craggs." 

Mrs. Craggs and Mrs. Snitchey joined them as he announced this 
intention. The Bird of Paradise was in a state of extreme vibration ; 
and the little bells were ringing quite audibly. 

" It has been the theme of general comment, Mr. Snitchey," said 
Mrs. Snitchey. " I hope the office is satisfied." 

" Satisfied with what, my dear } " asked Mr. Snitchey. 

" With the exposure of a defenceless woman to ridicule and remark," 
returned his wife. " That is quite in the way of the office, that is." 

" I really, myself," said Mrs. Craggs, " have been so long accustomed 
to connect the office with everything opposed to domesticity, that I am 
glad to know it as the avowed enemy of my peace. There is something 
honest in that, at all events." 



2i8 THE BATTLE OF LIFE 

" My dear," urged Mr. Craggs, " your good opinion is invaluable, but 
/ never avowed that the office was tiie enemy of your peace." 

" No," said Mrs. Craggs, ringing a perfect peal upon the little bells. 
*' Not you, indeed. You wouldn't be worthy of the office, if you had 
the candour to." 

" As to my having been away to-night, my dear," said Mr. Snitchey, 
giving her his arm, " the deprivation has been mine, I'm sure ; but, as 
Mr. Craggs knows " 

Mrs. Snitchey cut this reference very short by hitching her husband 
to a distance, and asking him to look at that man. To do her the 
favour to look at him ! 

" At which man, my dear ? " said Mr. Snitchey. 

" Your chosen companion ; I'm no companion to you, Mr. Snitchey." 

" Yes, yes, you are, my dear," he interposed. 

" No, no, I'm not," said Mrs. Snitchey, with a majestic smile. " I 
know my station. Will you look at your chosen companion, Mr. 
Snitchey ; at your referee ; at the keeper of your secrets ; at the man 
you trust ; at your other self, in short." 

The habitual association of Self with Craggs, occasioned Mr. Snitchey 
to look in that direction. 

" If you can look that man in the eye this night," said Mrs. Snitchey, 
" and not know that you are deluded, practised upon : made the victim 
of his arts, and bent down prostrate to his will by some unaccountable 
fascination which it is impossible to explain, and against which no 
warning of mine is of the least avail : all I can say is — I pity you ! " 

At the very same moment Mrs. Craggs was oracular on the cross 
subject. Was it possible, she said, that Craggs could so blind himself to 
his Snitcheys, as not to feel his true position ? Did he mean to say that 
he had seen his Snitcheys come into that room, and didn't plainly see 
that there was reservation, cunning, treachery, in the man ? Would he 
tell her that his very action, when he wiped his forehead and looked so 
stealthily about him, didn't show that there was something weighing 
on the conscience of his precious Snitcheys (if he had a conscience), that 
wouldn't bear the light ? Did anybody but his Snitcheys come to 
festive entertainments like a burglar ? — which, by the way, was hardly 
a clear illustration of the case, as he had walked in very mildly at the 
door. And would he still assert to her at noonday (it being nearly 
midnight), that his Snitcheys were to be justified through thick and 
thin, against all facts, and reason, and experience ? 

Neither Snitchey nor Craggs openly attempted to stem the current 
which had thus set in, but both were content to be carried gently along 
it, until its force abated ; which happened at about the same time as a 
general movement for a country dance ; when Mr. Snitchey proposed 
himself as a partner to Mrs. Craggs, and Mr. Craggs gallantly offered 
himself to Mrs. Snitchey ; and after some such slight evasions as " why 
don't you ask somebody else f " and " you'll be glad, I know, if I 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE 219 

decline," and " I wonder you can dance out of the office " (but this 
jocosely now), each lady graciously accepted, and took her place. 

It was an old custom among them, indeed, to do so, and to pair oif, in 
like manner, at dinners and suppers ; for they were excellent friends, and 
on a footing of easy famiharity. Perhaps the false Craggs and the 
wicked Snitchey were a recognised fiction with the two wives, as Doe 
and Roe, incessantly running up and down bailiwicks, were with the 
two husbands : or perhaps the ladies had instituted, and taken upon 
themselves, these two shares in the business, rather than be left out of it 
altogether. But certain it is, that each wife went as gravely and steadily 
to work in her vocation as her husband did in his : and would have 
considered it almost impossible for the Firm to maintain a successful 
and respectable existence, vdthout her laudable exertions. 

But now the Bird of Paradise was seen to flutter down the middle ; 
and the little bells began to bounce and jingle in poussette ; and the 
Doctor's rosy face spun round and round, like an expressive pegtop 
highly varnished ; and breathless Mr. Craggs began to doubt already, 
whether country dancing had been made " too easy," like the rest of 
life ; and Mr. Snitchey, with his nimble cuts and capers, footed it for 
Self and Craggs, and half-a-dozen more. 

Now too, the fire took fresh courage, favoured by the Hvely wind the 
dance awakened, and burnt clear and high. It was the Genius of the 
room, and present everywhere. It shone in people's eyes, it sparkled in 
the jewels on the snowy necks of girls, it twinkled at their ears as if it 
whispered to them slyly, it flashed about their waists, it flickered on the 
ground and made it rosy for their feet, it bloomed upon the ceiling that 
its glow might set off their bright faces, and it kindled up a general 
illumination in Mrs. Craggs's little belfry. 

Now too, the lively air that fanned it, grew less gentle as the music 
quickened and the dance proceeded with new spirit ; and a breeze arose 
that made the leaves and berries dance upon the wall, as they had often 
done upon the trees ; and rustled in the room as if an invisible company 
of fairies, treading in the footsteps of the good substantial revellers, were 
whirling after them. Now too, no feature of the Doctor's face could be 
distinguished as he spun and spun ; and now there seemed a dozen Birds 
of Paradise in fitful flight ; and now there were a thousand little bells at 
work ; and now a fleet of flying skirts was ruffled by a Httle tempest ; 
when the music gave in, and the dance was over. 

Hot and breathless as the Doctor was, it only made him more im- 
patient for Alfred's coming. 

" Anything been seen, Britain ? Anything been heard ? " 

" Too dark to see far, sir. • Too much noise inside the house to 
hear." 

" That's right ! The gayer welcome for him. How goes the time ? ' 

" Just twelve, sir. He can't be long, sir." 

" Stir up the fire, and throw another log upon it," said the Doctor. 



220 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

" Let him see his welcome blazing out upon the night — ^good boy ! — as 
he comes along ! " 

He saw it — Yes ! From the chaise he caught the light, as he turned 
the corner by the old church. He knew the room from which it shone. 
He saw the wintry branches of the old trees between the light and him. 
He knew that one of those trees rustled musically in the summer time at 
the window of Marion's chamber. 

The tears were in his eyes. His heart throbbed so violently that he 
could hardly bear his happiness. How often he had thought of this 
time — pictured it under all circumstances — ^feared that it might never 
come — ^yearned, and wearied for it — far away ! 

Again the light ! Distinct and ruddy ; kindled, he knew, to give him 
welcome, and to speed him home. He beckoned with his hand, and 
waved his hat, and cheered out loud, as if the light were they, and they 
could see and hear him, as he dashed towards them through the mud 
and mire, triumphantly. 

Stop ! He knew the Doctor, and understood what he had done. He 
would not let it be a surprise to them. But he could make it one, yet,, 
by going forward on foot. If the orchard gate were open, he could enter 
there ; if not, the wall was easily climbed, as he knew of old ; and he 
would be among them in an instant. 

He dismounted from the chaise, and telling the driver — even that was 
not easy in his agitation — to remain behind for a few minutes, and then 
to follow slowly, ran on with exceeding swiftness, tried the gate, scaled 
the wall, jumped dowoi on the other side, and stood panting in the old 
orchard. 

There was a frosty rime upon the trees, which, in the faint light of the 
clouded moon, hung upon the smaller branches like dead garlands. 
Withered leaves crackled and snapped beneath his feet, as he crept softly 
on towards the house. The desolation of a winter night sat brooding 
on the earth, and in the sky. But the red light came cheerily towards 
him from the windows : figures passed and repassed there : and the 
hum and murmur of voices greeted his ear sweetly. 

Listening for hers : attempting, as he crept on, to detach it from the 
rest, and half-beheving that he heard it : he had nearly reached the 
door when it was abruptly opened, and a figure coming out encountered 
his. It instantly recoiled with a half-suppressed cry. 

" Clemency," he said, " don't you know me f " 

" Don't come in," she answered, pushing him back. " Go away. 
Don't ask me why. Don't come in." 

" What is the matter ? " he exclaimed. 

" I don't know. I — I am afraid to think. Go back. Hark ! " 

There was a sudden tumult in the house. She put her hands upon 
her ears. A wild scream, such as no hands could shut out, was heard ; 
and Grace — distraction in her looks and manner — rushed out at the door. 

" Grace ! " He caught her in his arms. " What is it ! Is she dead ! '* 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 221 

She disengaged herself, as if to recognise his face, and fell down at his 
feet. 

A crowd of figures came about them from the house. Among them 
was her father, with a paper in his hand. 

" What is it ! " cried Alfred, grasping his hair with his hands, and 
looking in an agony from face to face, as he bent upon his knee beside 
the insensible girl. " Will no one look at me ? Will no one speak to 
me ? Does no one know me ? Is there no voice among you all, to tell 
me what it is ! " 

There was a murmur among them. " She is gone." 

" Gone ! " he echoed. 

" Fled, my dear Alfred ! " said the Doctor, in a broken voice, and 
with his hands before his face. " Gone from her home and us. To- 
night ! She writes that she has made her innocent and blameless choice 
— entreats that we will forgive her — prays that we will not forget her — 
and is gone." 

" With whom ? Where ? " 

He started up, as if to follow in pursuit, but when they gave way to 
let him pass, looked wildly round upon them, staggered back, and sank 
down in his former attitude, clasping one of Grace's cold hands in his 
own. 

There was a hurried running to and fro, confusion, noise, disorder, 
and no purpose. Some proceeded to disperse themselves about the 
roads, and some took horse, and some got lights, and some conversed 
together, urging that there was no trace or track to follow. Some 
approached him kindly, with the view of offering consolation ; some 
admonished him that Grace must be removed into the house, and that 
he prevented it. He never heard them, and he never moved. 

The snow fell fast and thick. He looked up for a moment in the air, 
and thought that those white ashes strewn upon his hopes and misery, 
were suited to them well. He looked round on the whitening ground, 
and thought how Marion's footprints would be hushed and covered up, 
as soon as made, and even that remembrance of her blotted out. But 
he never felt the weather and he never stirred. 



PART THE THIRD 

The world had grown six years older since that night of the return. It 
was a warm autumn afternoon, and there had been heavy rain. The 
sun burst suddenly from among the clouds : and the old battle-ground, 
sparkling briUiantly and cheerfully at sight of it in one green place, 
flashed a responsive welcome there, which spread along the country side 
as if a joyful beacon had been Hghted up, and answered from a thousand 
stations. 

How beautiful the landscape kindUng in the light, and that luxuriant 
influence passing on like a celestial presence, brightening everything ! 



222 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

The wood, a sombre mass before, revealed its varied tints of yellow, 
green, brown, red ; its different forms of trees, with raindrops glittering 
on their leaves and twinkling as they fell. The verdant meadowland, 
bright and glowing, seemed as if it had been blind a minute since, and 
now had found a sense of sight wherewith to look up at the shining sky. 
Corn-fields, hedgerows, fences, homesteads, the clustered roofs, the 
steeple of the church, the stream, the watermill, all sprang out of the 
gloomy darkness, smiling. Birds sang sweetly, flowers raised their droop- 
ing heads, fresh scents arose from the invigorated ground ; the blue 
expanse above, extended and diffused itself ; already the sun's slanting 
rays pierced mortally the sullen bank of cloud that hngered in its flight ; 
and a rainbow, spirit of all the colours that adorned the earth and sky, 
spanned the whole arch with its triumphant glory. 

At such a time, one Httle roadside Inn, snugly sheltered behind a great 
elm-tree with a rare seat for idlers encircling its capacious bole, addressed 
a cheerful front towards the traveller, as a house of entertainment ought, 
and tempted him with many mute but significant assurances of a com- 
fortable welcome. The ruddy signboard perched up in the tree, with 
its golden letters winking in the sun, ogled the passer-by from among the 
green leaves, like a jolly face, and promised good cheer. The horse- 
trough, full of clear fresh water, and the ground below it sprinkled with 
droppings of fragrant hay, made every horse that passed prick up his 
ears. The crimson curtains in the lower rooms, and the pure white 
hangings in the httle bedchambers above, beckoned. Come in ! with 
every breath of air. Upon the bright green shutters, there were golden 
legends about beer and ale, and neat wines, and good beds ; and an 
affecting picture of a brown jug frothing over at the top. Upon the 
window-sills were flowering plants in bright red pots, which made a 
lively show against the white front of the house ; and in the darkness 
of the doorway there were streaks of light, which glanced off from the 
surfaces of bottles and tankards. 

On the door-step, appeared a proper figure of a landlord, too ; for 
though he was a short man, he was round and broad, and stood with his 
hands in his pockets, and his legs just wide enough apart to express a 
mind at rest upon the subject of the cellar, and an easy confidence — too 
calm and virtuous to become a swagger — in the general resources of the 
Inn. The superabundant moisture, trickling from everything after the 
late rain, set him off well. Nothing near him was thirsty. Certain top- 
heavy dahlias, looking over the palings of his neat well-ordered garden, 
had swilled as much as they could carry — perhaps a trifle more — and may 
have been the worse for liquor ; but the sweet-briar, roses, wall-flowers, 
the plants at the windows, and the leaves on the old tree, were in the 
beaming state of moderate company that had taken no more than was 
wholesome for them, and had served to develop their best quahties. 
Sprinkhng dewy drops about them on the ground, they seemed profuse 
of innocent and sparkling mirth, that did good where it hghted, softening 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 223 

neglected comers which the steady rain could seldom reach, and hurting 
nothing. 

This village Inn had assumed, on being estabhshed, an uncommon 
sign. It was called The Nutmeg Grater. And underneath that 
household word, was inscribed, up in the tree, on the same flaming 
board, and in the like golden characters, By Benjamin Britain. At a 
second glance, and on a more minute examination of his face, you might 
have known that it was no other than Benjamin Britain himself who stood 
in the doorway — reasonably changed by time, but for the better ; a 
very comfortable host indeed. 

" Mrs. B.," said Mr. Britain, looking down the road, " is rather late. 
It's tea-time." 

As there was no Mrs. Britain coming, he strolled leisurely out into the 
road and looked up at the house, very much to his satisfaction. " It's 
just the sort of house," said Benjamin, " I should wish to stop at, if I 
didn't keep it." 

Then he strolled towards the garden paling, and took a look at the 
dahhas. They looked over at him, with a helpless, drowsy hanging of 
their heads : which bobbed again, as the heavy drops of wet dripped off 
them. 

" You must be looked after," said Benjamin. " Memorandum, not 
to forget to tell her so. She's a long time coming ! " 

Mr. Britain's better half seemed to be by so very much his better half, 
that his own moiety of himself was utterly cast away and helpless without 
her. 

" She hadn't much to do, I think," said Ben. " There were a few 
little matters of business after market, but not many. Oh ! here we are 
at last ! " 

A chaise-cart, driven by a boy, came clattering along the road : and 
seated in it, in a chair, with a large well-saturated umbrella spread out 
to dry behind her, was the plump figure of a matronly woman, with her 
bare arms folded across a basket which she carried on her knee, several 
other baskets and parcels lying crowded around her, and a certain bright 
good-nature in her face and contented awkwardness in her manner, as 
she jogged to and fro with the motion of her carriage, which smacked of 
old times, even in the distance. Upon her nearer approach, this relish 
of bygone days was not diminished ; and when the cart stopped at The 
Nutmeg Grater door, a pair of shoes, alighting from it, slipped nimbly 
through Mr. Britain's open arms, and came down with a substantial 
weight upon the pathway, which shoes could hardly have belonged to 
any one but Clemency Newcome. 

In fact they did belong to her, and she stood in them, and a rosy 
comfortable-looking soul she was : with as much soap on her glossy face 
as in times of yore, but with whole elbows now, that had grown quite 
dimpled in her improved condition. 

" You're late, Clemmy ! " said Mr. Britain. 



224 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

" Why, you see, Ben, I've had a deal to do ! " she repHed, looking 
busily after the safe removal into the house of all the packages and 
baskets ; " eight, nine, ten, — ^where's eleven ? Oh ! my basket's eleven. 
It's all right. Put the horse up, Harry, and if he coughs again give him 
a warm mash to-night. Eight, nine, ten. Why, where's eleven ? Oh 
I forgot, it's all right. How's the children, Ben ? " 

" Hearty, Clemmy, hearty." 

" Bless their precious faces ! " said Mrs. Britain, unbonneting her own 
round countenance (for she and her husband were by this time in the 
bar), and smoothing her hair with her open hands. " Give us a kiss, 
old man." 

Mr. Britain promptly complied. 

" I think," said Mrs. Britain, applying herself to her pockets and 
drawing forth an immense bulk of thin books and crumpled papers, a very 
kennel of dogs'-ears : " I've done everything. Bills all settled — turnips 
sold — brewer's account looked into and paid — 'bacco pipes ordered — 
seventeen pound four, paid into the Bank — Doctor Heathfield's charge 
for little Clem — you'll guess what that is — Doctor Heathfield won't take 
nothing again, Ben." 

" I thought he wouldn't," returned Britain, 

" No. He says whatever family you was to have, Ben, he'd never put 
you to the cost of a halfpenny. Not if you was to have twenty." 

Mr. Britain's face assumed a serious expression, and he looked hard at 
the wall. 

" An't it kind of him ? " said Clemency. 

*' Very," returned Mr. Britain. " It's the sort of kindness that I 
wouldn't presume upon, on any account." 

" No," retorted Cemency. " Of course not. Then there's the 
pony — he fetched eight pound two ; and that an't bad, is it ? " 

" It's very good," said Ben. 

" I'm glad you're pleased ! " exclaimed his wife. " I thought you 
would be ; and I think that's all, and so no more at present from yours 
and cetrer, C. Britain. Ha ha ha ! There ! Take all the papers, and 
lock 'em up. Oh ! Wait a minute. Here's a printed bill to stick on 
the wall. Wet from the printer's. How nice it smells ! " 

" What's this ? " said Ben, looking over the document. 

" I don't know," replied his wife. " I haven't read a word of it." 

" ' To be sold by Auction,' " read the host of The Nutmeg Grater, 
" ' unless previously disposed of by private contract.' " 

" They always put that," said Clemency. 

" Yes, but they don't always put this," he returned. " Look here, 
* Mansion,' &c. — ' offices,' &c., ' shrubberies,' &c., ' ring fence,' &c. 
' Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs,' &c., ' ornamental portion of the unen- 
cumbered freehold property of Michael Warden, Esquire, intending to 
continue to reside abroad ' ! " 

" Intending to continue to reside abroad ! " repeated Clemency. 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 225 

" Here it is," said Britain. " Look ! " 

" And it was only this very day that I heard it whispered at the old 
house, that better and plainer news had been half promised of her, 
soon ! " said Clemency, shaking her head sorrowfully, and patting her 
elbows as if the recollection of old times unconsciously awakened her old 
habits. " Dear, dear, dear ! There'll be heavy hearts, Ben, yonder." 

Mr. Britain heaved a sigh, and shook his head, and said he couldn't 
make it out : he had left off trying long ago. With that remark, he 
applied himself to putting up the bill just inside the bar window : and 
Clemency, after meditating in silence for a few moments, roused herself, 
cleared her thoughtful brow, and bustled off to look after the childrer* 

Though the host of The Nutmeg Grater had a lively regard for his 
good-wife, it was of the old patronising kind ; and she amused him 
mightily. Nothing would have astonished him so much, as to have 
known for certain from any third party, that it was she who managed the 
whole house, and made him, by her plain straightforward thrift, good- 
humour, honesty, and industry, a thriving man. So easy it is, in any 
degree of life (as the world very often finds it), to take those cheerful 
natures that never assert their merit, at their own modest valuation ; 
and to conceive a flippant liking of people for their outward oddities and 
eccentricities, whose innate worth, if we would look so far, might make 
us blush in the comparison ! 

It was comfortable to Mr. Britain, to think of his own condescension 
in having married Clemency. She was a perpetual testimony to him of 
the goodness of his heart, and the kindness of his disposition ; and he felt 
that her being an excellent wife was an illustration of the old precept 
that virtue is its own reward. 

He had finished wafering up the bill, and had locked the vouchers for 
her day's proceedings in the cupboard — chuckhng all the time, over her 
capacity for business — when, returning with the news that the two 
Master Britains were playing in the coach-house, under the superin- 
tendence of one Betsey, and that little Clem was sleeping " like a 
picture," she sat down to tea, which had awaited her arrival on a little 
table. It was a very neat little bar, with the usual display of bottles and 
glasses ; a sedate clock, right to the minute (it was half -past five) ; every- 
thing in its place, and everything furbished and polished up to the very 
utmost. 

" It's the first time I've sat down quietly to-day, I declare," said Mrs. 
Britain, taking a long breath, as if she had sat down for the night ; but 
getting up again immediately to hand her husband his tea, and cut him 
his bread-and-butter ; " how that bill does set me thinking of old 
times ! " 

" Ah ! " said Mr. Britain, handhng his saucer like an oyster, and dis- 
posing of its contents on the same principle. 

" That same Mr. Michael Warden," said Clemency, shaking her head 
at the notice of sale, " lost me my old place." 

CG H 



226 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

" xAjid got you your husband," said Mr. Britain. 

" Well ! So he did," retorted Clemency, " and many thanks to him." 

" Man's the creature of habit," said Mr. Britain, surveying her, over 
his saucer. " I had somehow got used to you, Clem ; and I found I 
shouldn't be able to get on without you. So we went and got made 
man and vdfe. Ha, ha ! We ! Who'd have thought it ! " 

" Wtio indeed ! " cried Clemency. " It was very good of you, Ben." 

" No, no, no," rephed Mr. Britain, with an air of self-denial. " No- 
thing worth mentioning." 

" Oh yes it was, Ben," said his v\dfe, with great simplicity ; " I'm sure 
I think so ; and am very much obhged to you. Ah ! " looking again at 
the bill ; " when she was known to be gone, and out of reach, dear girl, 
I couldn't help telhng — for her sake quite as much as theirs — what I 
knew, could I ? " 

" You told it, anyhow," observed her husband. 

" And Doctor Jeddler," pursued Clemency, putting down her tea-cup, 
and looking thoughtfully at the bill, " in his grief and passion turned me 
out of house and home ! I never have been so glad of anything in all 
my hfe, as that I didn't say an angry word to him, and hadn't an angry 
feeling towards him, even then ; for he repented that truly, afterwards. 
How often he has sat in this room, and told me over and over again he 
was sorry for it ! — the last time, only yesterday, when you were out. 
How often he has sat in this room, and talked to me, hour after hour, 
about one thing and another, in which he made beheve to be interested ! 
— but only for the sake of the days that are gone away, and because he 
knows she used to hke me, Ben ! " 

" Why, how did you ever come to catch a gHmpse of that, Clem ? " 
asked her husband ; astonished that she should have a distinct perception 
of a truth which had only dimly suggested itself to his inquiring mind. 

" I don't know, I'm sure," said Clemency, blowing her tea, to cool it. 
" Bless you, I couldn't tell you if you was to offer me a reward of a 
hundred pound." 

He might have pursued this metaphysical subject but for her catching 
a ghmpse of a substantial fact behind him, in the shape of a gentleman 
attired in mourning, and cloaked and booted like a rider on horseback, 
who stood at the bar-door. He seemed attentive to their conversation, 
and not at all impatient to interrupt it. 

Clemency hastily rose at this sight. Mr. Britain also rose and saluted 
the guest. " Will you please to walk up stairs, sir ? There's a very nice 
room up stairs, sir." 

" Thank you," said the stranger, looking earnestly at Mr. Britain's 
wife. " May I come in here? " 

" Oh, surely, if you like, sir," returned Clemency, admitting him. 
" What would you please to want, sir ? " 

The bill had caught his eye, and he was reading it. 

" Excellent property that, sir," observed Mr. Britain. 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 227 

He made no answer ; but turning round, when he had finished reading, 
looked at Clemency with the same observant curiosity as before. " You 
were asking me," he said, still looking at her — 

" What you would please to take, sir," answered Clemency, steahng a 
glance at him in return. 

" If you will let me have a draught of ale," he said, moving to a table 
by the window, " and will let me have it here, without being any 
interruption to your meal, I shall be much obliged to you." 

He sat down as he spoke, without any further parley, and looked out 
at the prospect. He was an easy, well-knit figure of a man in the prime 
of life. His face, much browned by the sun, was shaded by a quantity of 
dark hair ; and he wore a moustache. His beer being set before him, he 
filled out a glass, and drank, good-humouredly, to the house ; adding, as 
he put the tumbler down again : 

" It's a new house, is it not ? " 

" Not particularly new, sir," replied Mr. Britain. 

" Between five and six years old," said Clemency : speaking very 
distinctly. 

" I think I heard you mention Doctor Jeddler's name, as I came in," 
inquired the stranger. " That bill reminds me of him ; for I happen to 
know something of that story, by hearsay, and through certain connec- 
tions of mine. — Is the old man living .? " 

" Yes, he's living, sir," said Clemency. 

" Much changed ? " 

" Since when, sir ? " returned Clemency, with remarkable emphasis 
and expression. 

" Since his daughter — went away." 

" Yes ! he's greatly changed since then," said Clemency. " He's grey 
and old, and hasn't the same way with him at all ; but I think he's happy 
now. He has taken on with his sister since then, and goes to see her very 
often. That did him good directly. At first, he was sadly broken 
down ; and it was enough to make one's heart bleed, to see him wander- 
ing about, railing at the world ; but a great change for the better came 
over him after a year or two, and then he began to like to talk about his 
lost daughter, and to praise her, ay and the world too ! and was never 
tired of saying, with the tears in his poor eyes, how beautiful and good 
she was. He had forgiven her then. That was about the same time as 
Miss Grace's marriage. Britain, you remember ? " 

Mr. Britain remembered very well. 

" The sister is married then," returned the stranger. He paused for 
some time before he asked, " To whom ? " 

Clemency narrowly escaped oversetting the tea-board, in her emotion 
at this question. 

" Did you never hear .? " she said. 

" I should hke to hear," he replied, as he filled his glass again, and 
raised it to his lips. 



228 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

" Ah ! It would be a long story, if it was properly told," said Clem- 
ency, resting her chin on the palm of her left hand, and supporting that 
elbow on her right hand, as she shook her head, and looked back through 
the intervening years, as if she were looking at a fire. " It would be a 
long story, I am sure." 

" But told as a short one," suggested the stranger. 

" Told as a short one," repeated Clemency in the same thougthf ul tone, 
and without any apparent reference to him, or consciousness of having 
auditors, " what would there be to tell ? That they grieved together, and 
remembered her together, like a person dead ; that they were so tender of 
her, never would reproach her, called her back to one another as she used to 
be, and found excuses for her ? Every one knows that. I'm sure / do. 
No one better," added Clemency, wiping her eyes with her hand. 

" And so," suggested the stranger. 

" And so," said Clemency, taking him up mechanically, and without 
any change in her attitude or manner, " they at last were married. They 
were married on her birthday — it comes round again to-morrow — very 
quiet, very humble like, but very happy. Mr. Alfred said, one night 
when they were walking in the orchard, ' Grace, shall our wedding-day 
be Marion's birthday ? ' And it was." 

" And they have lived happily together ? " said the stranger. 

" Ay," said Clemency. " No two people ever more so. They have 
had no sorrow but this." 

She raised her head as with a sudden attention to the circumstances 
under which she was recalling these events, and looked quickly at the 
stranger. Seeing that his face was turned toward the window, and that 
he seemed intent upon the prospect, she made some eager signs to her 
husband, and pointed to the bill, and moved her mouth as if she were 
repeating with great energy, one word or phrase to him over and over 
again. As she uttered no sound, and as her dumb motions like most of 
her gestures were of a very extraordinary kind, this unintelligible conduct 
reduced Mr. Britain to the confines of despair. He stared at the table, 
at the stranger, at the spoons, at his wife — followed her pantomime with 
looks of deep amazement and perplexity — ^asked in the same language, 
was it property in danger, was it he in danger, was it she — answered her 
signals with other signals expressive of the deepest distress and confusion 
— ^followed the motions of her lips — ^guessed half aloud " milk and water," 
" monthly warning," " mice and walnuts " — and couldn't approach her 
meaning. 

Clemency gave it up at last, as a hopeless attempt ; and moving her 
chair by very slow degrees a little nearer to the stranger, sat with her 
eyes apparently cast down but glancing sharply at him now and then, 
waiting until he should ask some other question. She had not to wait 
long ; for he said, presently : 

" And what is the after history of the young lady who went away ? 
They know it, I suppose .? " 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 229 

Clemency shook her head. " I've heard," she said, " that Doctor 
Jeddler is thought to know more of it than he tells. Miss Grace has had 
letters from her sister, saying that she was well and happy, and made 
much happier by her being married to Mr. Alfred : and has written 
letters back. But there's a mystery about her life and fortunes, alto- 
gether, which nothing has cleared up to this hour, and which " 

She faltered here, and stopped. 

" And which " repeated the stranger. 

" Which only one other person, I beHeve, could explain," said 
Clemency, drawing her breath quickly. 

" Who may that be ? " asked the stranger. 

" Mr. Michael Warden ! " answered Clemency, almost in a shriek ; 
at once conveying to her husband what she would have had him under- 
stand before, and letting Michael Warden know that he was recognised. 

" You remember me, sir ? " said Clemency, trembling with emotion ; 
" I saw just now you did ! You remember me, that night in the garden. 
I was with her ! " 

" Yes. You were," he said. 

" Yes, sir," returned Clemency. " Yes, to be sure. This is my 
husband, if you please. Ben, my dear Ben, run to Miss Grace — run to 
Mr. Alfred — run somewhere, Ben ! Bring somebody here, directly ! " 

" Stay ! " said Michael Warden, quietly interposing himself between 
the door and Britain. " What would you do ? " 

" Let them know that you are here, sir," answered Clemency, clapping 
her hands in sheer agitation. " Let them know that they may hear of 
her, from your own lips ; let them know that she is not quite lost to 
them, but that she will come home again yet, to bless her father and her 
loving sister — even her old servant, even me," she struck herself upon 
the breast with both hands, " with a sight of her sweet face. Run, Ben, 
run ! " And still she pressed him on towards the door, and still Mr. 
Vv^arden stood before it, with his hand stretched out, not angrily, but 
sorrowfully. 

" Or perhaps," said Clemency, running past her husband, and catching 
in her emotion at Mr. Warden's cloak, " perhaps she's here now ; 
perhaps she's close by. I think from your manner she is. Let me see 
her, sir, if you please. I waited on her when she was a little child. I 
saw her grow to be the pride of all this place. I knew her when she was 
Mr. Alfred's promised wife. I tried to warn her when you tempted her 
away. I know what her old home was when she was like the soul of it, 
and how it changed when she was gone and lost. Let me speak to her, 
if you please ! " 

He gazed at her with compassion, not unmixed with wonder : but he 
made no gesture of assent. 

" I don't think she can know," pursued Clemency, " how truly they 
forgive her ; how they love her ; what joy it would be to them, to see 
her once more. She may be timorous of going home. Perhaps if she 



230 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

sees me, it may give her new heart. Only tell me truly, Mr. Warden, is 
she with you ? " 

" She is not," he answered, shaking his head. 

This answer, and his manner, and his black dress, and his coming back 
so quietly, and his announced intention of continuing to live abroad, 
explained it all. Marion was dead. 

He didn't contradict her ; yes, she was dead ! Clemency sat down, 
hid her face upon the table, and cried. 

At that moment, a grey-headed old gentleman came running in quite 
out of breath, and panting so much that his voice was scarcely to be 
recognised as the voice of Mr. Snitchey. 

" Good Heaven, Mr. Warden ! " said the lawyer, taking him aside, 
" what wind has blown — " He was so blown himself, that he couldn't 
get on any further until after a pause, when he added, feebly, " you 
here ? " 

" An ill wind, I am afraid," he answered. " If you could have heard 
what has just passed — how I have been besought and entreated to 
perform impossibiHties — ^what confusion and affliction I carry with me ! " 

" I can guess it all. But why did you ever come here, my good sir ? " 
retorted Snitchey. 

" Come ! How should I know who kept the house ? When I sent 
my servant on to you, I strolled in here because the place was new to me ; 
and I had a natural curiosity in everything new and old, in these old 
scenes ; and it was outside the town. I wanted to communicate with 
you first, before appearing there. I wanted to know what people would 
say to me. I see by your manner that you can tell me. If it were not 
for your confounded caution, I should have been possessed of everything 
long ago." 

" Our caution ! " returned the lawyer. " Speaking for Self and 
Craggs — deceased," here Mr. Snitchey, glancing at his hat-band, shook 
his head, *' how can you reasonably blame us, Mr. Warden ? It was 
understood between us that the subject was never to be renewed, and 
that it wasn't a subject on which grave and sober men like us (I made a 
note of your observations at the time) could interfere. Our caution too ! 
When Mr. Craggs, sir, went down to his respected grave in the full 
belief " 

" I had given a solemn promise of silence until I should return, when- 
ever that might be," interrupted Mr. Warden ; " and I have kept it." 

" Well, sir, and I repeat it," returned Mr. Snitchey, " we were bound 
to silence too. We were bound to silence in our duty towards ourselves, 
and in our duty towards a variety of clients, you among them, who were 
as close as wax. It was not our place to make inquiries of you on such a 
delicate subject. I had my suspicions, sir ; but it is not six months 
since I have known the truth, and been assured that you lost her." 

" By whom .? " inquired his client. 

" By Doctor Jeddler himself, sir, who at last reposed that confidence 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 231 

in me voluntarily. He, and only he, has known the whole truth, years 
and years." 

" And you know it ? " said his client. 

" I do, sir ! " rephed Snitchey ; " and I have also reason to know that 
it will be broken to her sister to-morrow evening. They have given her 
that promise. In the meantime, perhaps you'll give me the honour ot 
your company at my house ; being unexpected at your own. But, not 
to run the chance of any more such difficulties as you have had here, in 
case you should be recognised— though you're a good deal changed ; i 
think I might have passed you myself, Mr. Warden-we had better dme 
here, and walk on in the evening. It's a very good place to dine at, Mr 
Warden : your own property, by the bye. Self and Craggs (deceased) 
took a chop here sometimes, and had it very comfortably served. Mr 
Craggs, sir," said Snitchey, shutting his eyes tight for an instant, and 
opening them again, " was struck off the roll of life too soon. 

" Heaven forgive me for not condohng with you," returned Michaei 
Warden, passing his hand across his forehead, " but I'm like a man m a 
dream at present. I seem to want my wits. Mr. Craggs— yes— i am 
very sorry we have lost Mr. Craggs." But he looked at Clemency as he 
said it, and seemed to sympathise with Ben, consohng her. 

" Mr. Craggs, sir," observed Snitchey, " didn't find Ufe, I regret to 
say, as easy to have and to hold as his theory made it out, or he would 
have been among us now. It's a great loss to me. He was my right 
arm, my right leg, my right ear, my right eye, was Mr. Craggs. I am 
paralytic without him. He bequeathed his share of the business to 
Mrs. Craggs, her executors, administrators, and assigns. His name 
remains in the Firm to this hour. I try, in a childish sort of a way, to 
make beheve, sometimes, that he's alive. You may observe that I speak 
for Self and Craggs— deceased, sir-deceased," said the tender-hearted 
attorney, waving his pocket-handkerchief. 

Michael Warden, who had still been observant of Clemency, turned to 
Mr. Snitchey when he ceased to speak, and whispered in his ear. 

" Ah, poor thing ! " said Snitchey, shaking his head. " Yes. She was 
always 'very faithful to Marion. She was always very fond of her 
Pretty Marion ! Poor Marion ! Cheer up, mistress— you are married 
now, you know, Clemency." 

Clemency only sighed, and shook her head. 
" Well, well ! Wait till to-morrow," said the lav^er, kindly. 
" To-morrow can't bring back the dead to life, mister," said Clemency, 
sobbing. 

" No. It can't do that, or it would bring back Mr. Craggs, deceased, 
returned the lawyer. " But it may bring some soothing circumstances ; 
it may bring some comfort. Wait till to-morrow ! " 

So Clemency, shaking his proffered hand, said she would ; and Britain, 
who had been terribly cast down at sight of his despondent wife (which 
was hke the business hanging its head), said that was right ; and Mr. 



232 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

Snitcheyand Michael Warden went up stairs ; and there they were soon 
engaged m a conversation so cautiously conducted, that no murmur of it 
was audible above the clatter of plates and dishes, the hissing of the 
tiymg-pan, the bubblmg of saucepans, the low monotonous waltzing of 
the jack-with a dreadful click every now and then as if it had met with 
some mortal accident to its head, in a fit of giddiness-and all the other 
preparations m the kitchen for their dinner. 

To-morrow was a bright and peaceful day; and nowhere were the 
autumn tints more beautifully seen, than from the quiet orchard of the 
iJoctor s house The snows of many winter nights had melted from 
tnat ground, the withered leaves of many summer times had rustled 
there, since she had fled. The honeysuckle porch was green again the 
trees cast bountiful and changing shadows on the grass, the landscape was 
as tranquil and serene as it had ever been ; but where was she ' 

Not there. Not there. She would have been a stranger sight in her 
old home now, even than that home had been at first, without her. But 
a lady sat m the famihar place, from whose heart she had never passed 
away ; m whose true memory she lived, unchanging, youthful, radiant 
with all promise and all hope ; in whose afiFection— and it was a mother's 
now : there was a cherished little daughter playing by her side-she had 
no rival; no successor, upon whose gentle lipsher name was trembhng then 
Ihe spirit of the lost girl looked out of those eyes. Those eyes of 
Orace, her sister, sitting with her husband in the orchard, on their 
weddmg-day, and his and Marion's birthday. 

He had not become a great man ; he had not grown rich ; he had not 
forgotten the scenes and friends of his youth : he had not fulfilled any 
one of the Doctor's old predictions. But in his useful, patient, unknown 
visiting of poor men's homes ; and in his watching of sick beds ; and in 
his daily knowledge of the gentleness and goodness flowering the bye- 
paths of the world, not to be trodden down beneath the heavy foot of 
poverty, but springing up, elastic, in its track, and making its way 
beautiful ; he had better learned and proved, in each succeeding year 
the truth of his old faith. The manner of his life, though quiet and 
remote, had shown him how often men still entertained angels, unawares, 
as m the olden time ; and how the most unlikely forms— even some that 
were mean and ugly to the view, and poorly clad— became irradiated by 
the couch of sorrow, want, and pain, and changed to ministering spirits 
with a glory round their heads. 

T ?V^r^ ^^ ^^"^^ purpose on the altered battle-ground perhaps, than 
it he had contended restlessly in more ambitious hsts : and he was happv 
with his wife, dear Grace. 

And Marion. Had he forgotten her ? 

" The time has flown, dear Grace," he said, " since then ; " they had 
been talking of that night ; " and yet it seems a long while ago. We 
count by changes and events vidthin us. Not by years." 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 233 

'' Yet we have years to count by, too, since Marion was with us," 
returned Grace. " Six times, dear husband, counting to-night as one, 
we have sat here on her birthday, and spoken together of that happy 
return, so eagerly expected and so long deferred. Ah when will it be ! 
When will it be ! " 

Her husband attentively observed her, as the tears collected in her 
eyes ; and drawing nearer, said : 

" But Marion told you, in that farewell letter which she left for you 
upon your table, love, and which you read so often, that years must pass 
away before it could be. Did she not ? " 

She took a letter from her breast, and kissed it, and said " Yes." 

" That through those intervening years, however happy she might be, 
she would look forward to the time when you would meet again, and all 
would be made clear : and prayed you, trustfully and hopefully to do 
the same. The letter runs so, does it not, my dear ? " 

" Yes, Alfred." 

" And every other letter she has written since ? " 

" Except the last — some months ago — in which she spoke of you, and 
what you then knew, and what I was to learn to-night." 

He looked towards the sun, then fast decHning, and said that the 
appointed time was sunset. 

" Alfred ! " said Grace, laying her hand upon his shoulder earnestly, 
" there is something in this letter — this old letter, which you say I read 
so often — that I have never told you. But, to-night, dear husband, with 
that sunset drawing near, and all our life seeming to soften and become 
hushed with the departing day, I cannot keep it secret." 

" What is it, love ? " 

" When Marion went away, she wrote m.e, here, that you had once 
left her a sacred trust to me, and that now she left you, Alfred, such a 
trust in my hands : praying and beseeching me, as I loved her, and as I 
loved you, not to reject the affection she beheved (she knew, she said) 
you would transfer to me when the new wound was healed, but to 
encourage and return it." 

" — And make me a proud, and happy man again, Grace, " Did she 
say so ? " 

" She meant, to make myself so blest and honoured in your love," was 
his wife's answer, as he held her in his arms. 

" Hear me, my dear ! " he said. — " No. Hear me so ! " — and as he 
spoke, he gently laid the head she had raised, again upon his shoulder. 
" I know why I have never heard this passage in the letter, until now. I 
know why no trace of it ever showed itself in any word or look of yours at 
that time. I know why Grace, although so true a friend to me, was 
hard to win to be my wife. And knowing it, my own ! I know the 
priceless value of the heart I gird within my arms, and thank God for 
the rich possession ! " 

She wept, but not for sorrow, as he pressed her to his heart. After a 

cc. h' 



234 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

brief space, he looked down at the child, who was sitting at their feet, 
playing with a little basket of flowers, and bade her look how golden and 
how red the sun was. 

" Alfred," said Grace, raising her head quickly at these words, " The 
sun is going down. You have not forgotten what I am to know before 
it sets." 

" You are to know the truth of Marion's history, my love," he 
answered. 

" All the truth," she said, imploringly, " Nothing veiled from me, 
any more. That was the promise. Was it not ? " 

" It was," he answered. 

" Before the sun went down on Marion's birthday. And you see it, 
Alfred ? It is sinking fast. 

He put his arm about her waist ; and, looking steadily into her eyes, 
rejoined, 

" That truth is not reserved so long for me to tell, dear Grace. It is 
to come from other lips." 

" From other lips ! " she faintly echoed. 

" Yes. I know your constant heart, I know how brave you are, I know 
that to you a word of preparation is enough. You have said, truly, that 
the time is come. It is. Tell me that you have present fortitude to 
bear a trial — a surprise — a shock : and the messenger is waiting at the 
gate." 

" What messenger ? " she said. " And what intelligence does he 
bring ? " 

" I am pledged," he answered her, preserving his steady look, " to say 
no more. Do you think you understand me .? " 

" I am afraid to think," she said. 

There was that emotion in his face, despite its steady gaze, which 
frightened her. Again she hid her own face on his shoulder, trembling, 
and entreated him to pause — a moment. 

" Courage, my wife ! When you have firmness to receive the mes- 
senger, the messenger is waiting at the gate. The sun is setting on 
Marion's birthday. Courage, courage, Grace ! " 

She raised her head, and, looking at him, told him she was ready. As 
she stood, and looked upon him going away, her face was so hke Marion's 
as it had been in her later days at home, that it was wonderful to see. 
He took the child with him. She called her back — she bore the lost 
girl's name — and pressed her to her bosom. The Httle creature, being 
released again, sped after him, and Grace was left alone. 

She knew not what she dreaded, or what hoped ; but remained there, 
motionless, looking at the porch by which they had disappeared. 

Ah i what was that, emerging from its shadow ; standing on its 
threshold ! That figure, with its white garments rustling in the evening 
air ; its head laid down upon her father's breast, and pressed against it 
to his loving heart ! Oh, God ! was it a vision that came bursting from 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 235 

the old man's arms, and with a cry, and with a waving of its hands, and 
with a wild precipitation of itself upon her in its boundless love, sank 
down in her embrace ! 

" Oh, Marion, Marion ! Oh, my sister ! Oh, my heart's dear love ! 
Oh, joy and happiness unutterable, so to meet again ! " 

It was no dream, no phantom conjured up by hope and fear, but 
Marion, sweet Marion ! So beautiful, so happy, so unalloyed by care 
and trial, so elevated and exalted in her loveliness, that as the setting sun 
shone brightly on her upturned face, she might have been a spirit visiting 
the earth upon some heahng mission. 

Clinging to her sister, who had dropped upon a seat, and bent down 
over her : and smiling through her tears, and kneeling, close before her, 
with both arms twining round her, and never turning for an instant from 
her face : and with the glory of the setting sun upon her brow, and 
with the soft tranquillity of evening gathering around them : Marion at 
length broke silence ; her voice, so calm, low, clear, and pleasant, well- 
tuned to the time. 

" When this was my dear home, Grace, as it will be now, again " 

" Stay, my sweet love ! A moment ! Oh Marion, to hear you speak 
again." 

She could not bear the voice she loved so well, at first. 

" When this was my dear home, Grace, as it will be now, again, I loved 
him from my soul. I loved him most devotedly. I would have died for 
him, though I was so young. I never shghted his affection in my secret 
breast, for one brief instant. It was far beyond all price to me. Al- 
though it is so long ago, and past and gone, and everything is wholly 
changed, I could not bear to think that you, who love so well, should 
think I did not truly love him once. I never loved him better, Grace, 
than when he left this very scene upon this very day. I never loved him 
better, dear one, than I did that night when / left here." 

Her sister, bending over her, could only look into her face, and hold 
her fast. 

" But he had gained, unconsciously," said Marion, with a gentle smile, 
" another heart, before I knew that I had one to give him. That heart — 
yours, my sister — was so yielded up, in all its other tenderness, to me ; 
was so devoted, and so noble ; that it plucked its love away, and kept its 
secret from all eyes but mine — Ah ! what other eyes were quickened by 
such tenderness and gratitude ! — and was content to sacrifice itself to 
me. But I knew something of its depths. I knew the struggle it had 
made. I knew its high, inestimable worth to him, and his appreciation 
of it, let him love me as he would. I knew the debt I owed it. I had 
its great example every day before me. What you had done for me, I 
knew that I could do, Grace, if I would, for you. I never laid my head 
down on my pillow but I prayed with tears to do it. I never laid my 
head down on my pillow, but I thought of Alfred's own words, on the 
day of his departure, and how truly he had said (for I knew that, by you) 



236 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

that there were victories gained every day, in struggling hearts, to which 
these fields of battle were as nothing. Thinking more and more upon 
the great endurance cheerfully sustained, and never known or cared for, 
that there must be every day and hour, in that great strife of which he 
spoke, my trial seemed to grow light and easy : and He who knows our 
hearts, my dearest, at this moment, and who knows there is no drop of 
bitterness or grief — of anything but unmixed happiness — in mine, 
enabled me to make the resolution that I never would be Alfred's wife. 
That he should be my brother, and your husband, if the course I took 
could bring that happy end to pass ; but that I never would (Grace, I 
then loved him dearly, dearly !) be his wife ! " 

" Oh Marion ! Oh Marion ! " 

" I had tried to seem indifferent to him ; " and she pressed her sister's 
face against her own ; " but that was hard, and you were always his true 
advocate. I had tried to tell you of my resolution, but you would never 
hear me ; you would never understand me. The time was drawing near 
for his return. I felt that I must act, before the daily intercourse 
between us was renewed. I knew that one great pang, undergone at 
that time, would save a lengthened agony to all of us. I knew that if I 
went away then, that end must follow which has followed, and which 
has made us both so happy, Grace ! I wrote to good Aunt Martha, for 
a refuge in her house : I did not then tell her all, but something of my 
story, and she freely promised it. While I was contesting that step with 
myself, and with my love of you, and home, Mr. Warden, brought here 
by an accident, became, for some time, our companion." 

" I have sometimes feared of late years, that this might have been," 
exclaimed her sister, and her countenance was ashy pale. " You never 
loved him — and you married him in your self-sacrifice to me ! " 

" He was then," said Marion, drawing her sister closer to her, " on the 
eve of going secretly away for a long time. He wrote to me, after leaving 
here ; told me what his condition and prospects really were ; and 
offered me his hand. He told me he had seen I was not happy in the 
prospect of Alfred's return. I believe he thought my heart had no part 
in that contract ; perhaps thought I might have loved him once, and 
did not then ; perhaps thought that when I tried to seem indifferent, I 
tried to hide indifference — I cannot tell. But I wished that you should 
feel me wholly lost to Alfred — hopeless to him — dead. Do you under- 
stand me, love ? " 

Her sister looked into her face, attentively. She seemed in doubt. 

" I saw Mr. Warden, and confided in his honour ; charged him with 
my secret, on the eve of his and my departure. He kept it. Do you 
understand me, dear ? " 

Grace looked confusedly upon her. She scarcely seemed to hear. 

" My love, my sister !/' said Marion, " recall your thoughts a moment : 
sten to me. Do not look so strangely on me. There are countries, 
earest, where those who would abjure a misplaced passion, or would 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 237 

strive against some cherished feeHng of their hearts and conquer it, 
retire into a hopeless solitude, and close the world against themselves 
and worldly loves and hopes for ever. When women do so, they assume 
that name which is so dear to you and me, and call each other Sisters. 
But there may be sisters, Grace, who, in the broad world out of doors, 
and underneath its free sky, and in its crowded places, and among its 
busy life, and trying to assist and cheer it and to do some good, — learn 
the same lesson ; and, with hearts still fresh and young, and open to all 
happiness, and means of happiness, can say the battle is long past, the 
victory lohg won. And such a one am I ! You understand me now ? " 

Still she looked fixedly upon her, and made no reply. 

" Oh Grace, dear Grace," said Marion, clinging yet more tenderly and 
fondly to that breast from which she had been so long exiled, " if you 
were not a happy wife and mother — if I had no little namesake here — if 
Alfred, my kind brother, were not your own fond husband — from whence 
could I derive the ecstasy I feel to-night ! But as I left here, so I have 
returned. My heart has known no other love, my hand has never been 
bestowed apart from it : I am still your maiden sister, unmarried, 
unbetrothed : your own old loving Marion, in whose affection you exist 
alone, and have no partner, Grace ! " 

She understood her now. Her face relaxed ; sobs came to her relief ; 
and falling on her neck, she wept and wept, and fondled her as if she 
were a child again. 

When they were more composed, they found that the Doctor, and his 
sister, good Aunt Martha, were standing near at hand, with Alfred. 

" This is a weary day for me," said good Aunt Martha, smiling through 
her tears, as she embraced her nieces ; " for I lose my dear companion 
in making you all happy ; and what can you give me in return for my 
Marion .? " 

" A converted brother," said the Doctor. 

" That's something, to be sure," retorted Aunt Martha, " in such a 
farce as " 

" No, pray don't," said the Doctor penitently. 

" Well, I won't," replied Aunt Martha. " But I consider myself 
ill-used. I don't know what's to become of me without my Marion, 
after we have lived together half-a-dozen years." 

" You must come and Kve here, I suppose," replied the Doctor. 
" We shan't quarrel now, Martha." 

" Or get married, Aunt," said Alfred. 

" Indeed," returned the old lady, " I think it might be a good specula- 
tion if I were to set my cap at Michael Warden, who, I hear, is come 
home much the better for his absence, in all respects. But as I knew him 
when he was a boy, and I was not a very young woman then, perhaps he 
mightn't respond. So I'll make up my mind to go and live with Marion, 
when she marries, and until then (it will not be very long, I dare say) to 
live alone. What do you say, Brother ? " 



238 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

" I've a great mind to say it's a ridiculous world altogether, and there's 
nothing serious in it," observed the poor old Doctor. 

You might take twenty affidavits of it if you chose, Anthony," said 
his sister ; " but nobody would believe you with such eyes as those." 

" It's a world full of hearts," said the Doctor ; hugging his younger 
daughter, and bending across her to hug Grace — for he couldn't separate 
the sisters ; " and a serious world, with all its folly — even with mine, 
which was enough to have swamped the whole globe ; and a world on 
which the sun never rises, but it looks upon a thousand bloodless battles 
that are some set-off against the miseries and wickedness of Battle-Fields ; 
and a world we need be careful how we Hbel, Heaven forgive us, for it is 
a world of sacred mysteries, and its Creator only knows what lies beneath 
the surface of His lightest image ! " 

You would not be the better pleased with my rude pen, if it dissected 
and laid open to your view the transports of this family, long severed 
and now reunited. Therefore, I will not follow the poor Doctor 
through his humbled recollection of the sorrow he had had, when 
Marion was lost to him ; nor will I tell how serious he had found that 
world to be, in which some love deep-anchored, is the portion of all 
human creatures ; nor how such a trifle as the absence of one Httle unit 
in the great absurd account, had stricken him to the ground. Nor how, 
in compassion for his distress, his sister had, long ago, revealed the truth 
to him by slow degrees ; and brought him to the knowledge of the heart 
of his self-banished daughter, and to that daughter's side. 

Nor how Alfred Heathfield had been told the truth, too, in the course 
of that then current year ; and Marion had seen him, and had promised 
him, as her brother, that on her birthday, in the erening, Grace should 
know it from her hps at last. 

" I beg your pardon, Doctor," said Mr. Snitchey, looking into the 
orchard, " but have I Hberty to come in .? " 

Without waiting for permission, he came straight to Marion, and 
kissed her hand, quite joyfully. 

" If Mr. Craggs had been aHve, my dear Miss Marion," said Mr. 
Snitchey, " he would have had great interest in this occasion. It might 
have suggested to him, Mr. Alfred, that our life is not too easy, perhaps ; 
that, taken altogether, it will bear any Httle smoothing we can give it ; 
but Mr. Craggs was a man who could endure to be convinced, sir. He 
was always open to conviction. If he were open to conviction, now, I — 
this is weakness. Mrs. Snitchey, my dear,"— at his summons that lady 
appeared from behind the door, " you are among old friends." 

Mrs. Snitchey having delivered her congratulations, took her husband 
aside. 

" One moment, Mr. Snitchey," said that lady. " It is not in my 
nature to rake up the ashes of the departed." 

" No, my dear," returned her husband. 



THEBATTLEOFLIFE 239 

" Mr. Craggs is " 

" Yes my dear, he is deceased," said Mr. Smtchey. 

" But I ask 70U if you recoUect," pursued his wife, " that evening of 
the ball. I only ask you that. If you do ; and if your memory has not 
entirely failed you, Mr. Snitchey ; and if you are not absolutely m your 
dotage ; I ask you to connect this time with that— to remember how i 
begged and prayed you, on my knees 

" Upon your knees, my dear ? " said Mr. Snitchey. 

"Yes," said Mrs. Snitchey, confidently, "and you know it— to 
beware of that man— to observe his eye— and now to tell me whether I 
was right, and whether at that moment he knew secrets which he didn t 

choose to tell." ., iv/r j rwi 

" Mrs. Snitchey," returned her husband, in her ear, Madam. Did 
you ever observe anything in my eye ? " 

" No," said Mrs. Snitchey, sharply. " Don't flatter yourself. 
"Because, ma'am, that night," he continued, twitching her by the 
sleeve, " it happens that we both knew secrets which we didn't choose to 
tell, and both knew just the same, professionally. And so the less you 
say about such things the better, Mrs. Snitchey; and take this as a 
warning to have wiser and more charitable eyes another time. Miss 
Marion, I brought a friend of yours along with me. Here 1 Mistress. 

Poor Clemency, with her apron to her eyes, came slowly m, escorted 
by her husband ; the latter doleful with the presentiment, that if she 
abandoned herseH to grief. The Nutmeg Grater was done for. 

" Now, mistress," said the lawyer, checking Marion as she ran towards 
her, and interposing himself between them, " what's the matter with 
youP " 

" The matter ! " cried poor Clemency. 

When looking up in wonder, and in indignant remonstrance, and in 
the added emotion of a great roar from Mr. Britain, and seeing that 
sweet face so weU-remembered close before her, she stared, sobbed 
laughed, cried, screamed, embraced her, held her fast, released her, feU 
on Mr. Snitchey and embraced him (much to Mrs. Smtchey s indigna- 
tion) fell on the Doctor and embraced him, feU on Mr. Britain and 
embraced him, and concluded by embracing herself, throwing her apron 
over her head, and going into hysterics behind it. 

A stranger had come into the orchard, after Mr. Smtchey, and had 
remained apart, near the gate, without being observed by any of the 
group • for they had little spare attention to bestow, and that had been 
monopohsed by the ecstasies of Clemency. He did not appear to wish 
to be observed, but stood alone, with downcast eyes ; and there was an 
air of dejection about him (though he was a gentleman of a gallant 
appearance) which the general happiness rendered more remarkable. 

None but the quick eyes of Aunt Martha, however, remarked him at 
all ; but almost as soon as she espied him, she was in conversation with 
him. Presently, going to where Marion stood with Grace and her little 



240 THEBATTLEOFLIFE 

namesake, she whispered something in Marion's ear, at which she 
started, and appeared surprised ; but soon recovering from her confusion, 
she timidly approached the stranger, in Aunt Martha's company, and 
engaged in conversation with him too. 

" Mr. Britain," said the lawyer, putting his hand in his pocket, and 
bringing out a legal-looking document, while this was going on, " I 
congratulate you. You are now the whole and sole proprietor of that 
freehold tenement, at present occupied and held by yourself as a licensed 
tavern, or house of public entertainment, and commonly called or known 
by the sign of The Nutmeg Grater. Your wife lost one house, through 
my client Mr. Michael Warden ; and now gains another. I shall have 
the pleasure of canvassing you for the county, one of these fine mornings." 

" Would it make any difference in the vote if the sign was altered, 
sir .? " asked Britain. 

" Not in the least," replied the lawyer. 

" Then," said Mr. Britain, handing him back the conveyance, " just 
clap in the words, ' and Thimble,' v\dll you be so good ; and I'll have 
the two mottoes painted up in the parlour, instead of my wife's portrait." 

" And let me," said a voice behind them ; it was the stranger's — 
Michael Warden's ; " let me claim the benefit of those inscriptions. 
Mr. Heathfield and Doctor Jeddler, I might have deeply wronged you 
both. That I did not, is no virtue of my own. I will not say that I am 
six years wiser than I was, or better. But I have known, at any rate, 
that term of self-reproach. I can urge no reason why you should deal 
gently with me. I abused the hospitality of this house and learnt my 
own demerits, with a shame I never have forgotten, yet with some profit 
too I would fain hope, from one," he glanced at Marion, " to whom I 
made my humble supplication for forgiveness, when I knew her merit 
and my deep unworthiness. In a few days I shall quit this place for ever. 
I entreat your pardon. Do as you would be done by ! Forget and 
forgive ! " 

Time — ^from whom I had the latter portion of this story, and with 
whom I have the pleasure of a personal acquaintance of some five-and- 
thirty-years' duration — informed me, leaning easily upon his scythe, that 
Michael Warden never went away again, and never sold his house, but 
opened it afresh, maintained a golden mean of hospitality, and had a 
wife, the pride and honour of that country-side, whose name was 
Marion. But as I have observed that Time confuses facts occasionally, 
I hardly know what weight to give to his authority. 



THE HAUNTED MAN AND THE GHOSTS 
BARGAIN 



CHAPTER I : The Gift Bestowed 
Everybody said so. 

Far be it from me to assert that what everybody says must be true. 
Everybody is, often, as Hkely to be wrong as right. In the general 
experience, everybody has been wrong so often, and it has taken, in most 
instances, such a weary while to find out how wrong, that the authority 
is proved to be fallible. Everybody may sometimes be right ; " but 
thafs no rule," as the ghost of Giles Scroggins says in the ballad. 

The dread word. Ghost, recalls me. 

Everybody said he looked like a haunted man. The extent of my 
present claim for everybody is, that they were so far right. He did. 

Who could have seen his hollow cheek ; his sunken brilHant eye ; his 
black-attired figure, indefinably grim, although well-knit and well-pro- 
portioned ; his grizzled hair hanging, like tangled sea-weed, about his 
face, — as if he had been, through his whole life, a lonely mark for the 
chafing and beating of the great deep of humanity, — but might have said 
he looked like a haunted man .? 

Who could have observed his manner, taciturn, thoughtful, gloomy, 
shadowed by habitual reserve, retiring always and jocund never, with a 
distraught air of reverting to a bygone place and time, or of listening to 
some old echoes in his mind, but might have said it was the manner of a 
haunted man .? 

WTio could have heard his voice, slow-speaking, deep, and grave, with 
a natural fulness and melody in it which he seemed to set himself against 
and stop, but might have said it was the voice of a haunted man ? 

Who that had seen him in his inner chamber, part library and part 
laboratory, — for he was, as the world knew, far and wide, a learned man 
in chemistry, and a teacher on whose lips and hands a crowd of aspiring 
ears and eyes hung daily, — who that had seen him there, upon a winter 
night, alone, surrounded by his drugs and instruments and books ; the 
shadow of his shaded lamp a monstrous beetle on the wall, motionless 
among a crowd of spectral shapes raised there by the flickering of the fire 
upon the quaint objects around him ; some of these phantoms (the 
reflection of glass vessels that held liquids), trembling at heart like things 
that knew his power to uncombine them, and to give back their compo- 
nent parts to fire and vapour ; — who that had seen him then, his work 
done, and he pondering in his chair before the rusted grate and red 
flame, moving his thin mouth as if in speech, but silent as the dead, 
would not have said that the man seemed haunted and the chamber too ? 

Who might not, by a very easy flight of fancy, have beHeved that 
everything about him took this haunted tone and that he lived on 
haunted ground ? 

241 



242 THE HAUNTED MAN 

His dwelling was so solitary and vault-like, — an old, retired part of an 
ancient endowment for students, once a brave edifice, planted in an open 
place, but now the obsolete whim of forgotten architects ; smoke-age- 
and-weather-darkened, squeezed on every side by the overgrowing of the 
great city, and choked, like an old well, with stones and bricks ; its small 
quadrangles, lying down in very pits formed by the streets and buildings, 
which, in course of time, had been constructed above its heavy chimney 
stacks ; its old trees, insulted by the neighbouring smoke, which deigned 
to droop so low when it was very feeble and the weather very moody ; 
its grass-plots, struggling with the mildewed earth to be grass, or to win 
any show of compromise ; its silent pavements, unaccustomed to the 
tread of feet, and even to the observation of eyes, except when a stray face 
looked down from the upper world, wondering what nook it was ; its 
sun-dial in a Httle bricked-up corner, where no sun had straggled for a 
hundred years, but where, in compensation for the sun's neglect, the 
snow would lie for weeks when it lay nowhere else, and the black east 
wind would spin like a huge humming-top, when in all other places it was 
silent and still. 

His dwelling, at its heart and core — within doors — at his fireside — v/as 
so lowering and old, so crazy, yet so strong, with its worm-eaten beams of 
wood in the ceiling, and its sturdy floor shelving downward to the great 
oak chimney-piece ; so environed and hemmed in by the pressure of the 
town, yet so remote in fashion, age, and custom ; so quiet, yet so 
thundering with echoes when a distant voice was raised or a door was 
shut, — echoes, not confined to the many low passages and empty rooms, 
but rumbling and grumbling till they were stifled in the heavy air of the 
forgotten Crypt where the Norman arches were half-buried in the earth. 

You should have seen him in his dwelling about twilight, in the dead 
winter time. 

When the wind was blowing, shriU and shrewd, with the going down 
of the blurred sun. When it was just so dark, as that the forms of things 
were indistinct and big — but not wholly lost. When sitters by the fire 
began to see wild faces and figures, mountains and abysses, ambuscades 
and armies, in the coals. When people in the streets bent down their 
heads and ran before the weather. When those who were obliged to 
meet it, were stopped at angry corners, stung by wandering snow-flakes 
alighting on the lashes of their eyes, — which fell too sparingly, and were 
blown away too quickly, to leave a trace upon the frozen ground. When 
windows of private houses closed up tight and warm. When lighted gas 
began to burst forth in the busy and the quiet streets, fast blackening other- 
vdse. When stray pedestrians, shivering along the latter, looked down 
at the glowing fires in kitchens, and sharpened their sharp appetites by 
snifiing up the fragrance of whole miles of dinners. 

When travellers by land were bitter cold, and looked wearily on 
gloomy landscapes, rustling and shuddering in the blast. When 
mariners at sea, outlying upon icy yards, were tossed and swung above 



THE HAUNTED MAN 243 

the howling ocean dreadfully. When lighthouses, on rocks and head- 
lands, showed solitary and watchful ; and benighted seabirds breasted 
on against their ponderous lanterns, and fell dead. When little readers 
of story-books, by the firelight, trembled to think of Cassim Baba cut 
into quarters, hanging in the Robbers' Cave, or had some small mis- 
givings that the fierce little old woman, with the crutch, who used to 
start out of the box in the merchant Abudah's bedroom, might, one of 
these nights, be found upon the stairs, in the long, cold, dusky journey 
up to bed. 

When, in rustic places, the last glimmering of daylight died away from 
the ends of avenues ; and the trees, arching overhead, were sullen and 
black. When, in parks and woods, the high wet fern and sodden moss, 
and beds of fallen leaves, and trunks of trees, were lost to view, in masses 
of impenetrable shade. When mists arose from dyke, and fen, and river. 
When lights in old halls and in cottage windows, were a cheerful sight. 
When the mill stopped, the wheelwright and the blacksmith shut their 
workshops, the turnpike-gate closed, the plough and harrow were left 
lonely in the fields, the labourer and team went home, and the striking 
of the church clock had a deeper sound than at noon, and the churchyard 
wicket would be swung no more that night. 

When twilight everywhere released the shadows, prisoned up all day, 
that now closed in and gathered like mustering swarms of ghosts. When 
they stood lowering, in corners of rooms, and frowned out from behind 
half-opened doors. When they had full possession of unoccupied apart- 
ments. When they danced upon the floors, and walls, and ceilings of 
inhabited chambers, while the fire was low, and withdrew like ebbing 
waters when it sprang into a blaze. When they fantastically mocked 
the shapes of household objects, making the nurse an ogress, the rocking- 
horse a monster, the wondering child, half-scared and half-amused, a 
stranger to itself, — the very tongs upon the hearth, a straddling giant 
with his arms a-kimbo, evidently smelling the blood of Englishmen, and 
wanting to grind people's bones to make his bread. 

When these shadows brought into the minds of older people, other 
thoughts, and showed them different images. When they stole from 
their retreats, in the likenesses of forms and faces from the past, from the 
grave, from the deep, deep gulf, where the things that might have been, 
and never were, are always wandering. 

When he sat, as already mentioned, gazing at the fire. When, as it 
rose and fell, the shadows went and came. When he took no heed of 
them, with his bodily eyes ; but, let them come or let them go, looked 
fixedly at the fire. You should have seen him, then. 

When the sounds that had arisen with the shadows, and come out of 
their lurking-places at the twilight summons, seemed to make a deeper 
stillness all about him. When the wind was rumbhng in the chimney, 
and sometimes crooning, sometimes howHng, in the house. When the 
old trees outside were so shaken and beaten, that one querulous old rook. 



244 THE HAUNTED MAN 

unable to sleep, protested now and then, in a feeble, dozy, high-up 
" Caw ! " When, at intervals, the window trembled, the rusty vane 
upon the turret-top complained, the clock beneath it recorded that 
another quarter of an hour was gone, or the fire collapsed and fell in vdth 
a rattle. 

— When a knock came at his door, in short, as he was sitting so, and 
roused him. 

" Who's that .? " said he. " Come in ! " 

Surely there had been no figure leaning on the back of his chair ; no 
face looking over it. It is certain that no gliding footstep touched the 
floor, as he lifted up his head, with a start, and spoke. And yet there 
was no mirror in the room on whose surface his own form could have cast its 
shadow for a moment ; and Something had passed darkly and gone ! 

" I'm humbly fearful, sir," said a fresh-coloured busy man, holding 
the door open with his foot for the admission of himself and a wooden 
tray he carried, and letting it go again by very gentle and careful degrees, 
when he and the tray had got in, lest it should close noisily, " that it's a 
good bit past the time to-night. But Mrs. William has been taken off 
her legs so often " 

" By the wind ? Ay ! I have heard it rising." 

" — By the wind, sir — that it's a mercy she got home at all. Oh dear, 
yes. Yes. It was by the wind, Mr. Redlaw. By the wind." 

He had, by this time, put down the tray for dinner, and was employed 
in lighting the lamp, and spreading a cloth on the table. From this 
employment he desisted in a hurry, to stir and feed the fire, and then 
resumed it ; the lamp he had lighted, and the blaze that rose under his 
hand, so quickly changing the appearance of the room, that it seemed as 
if the mere coming in of his fresh red face and active manner had made 
the pleasant alteration. 

" Mrs. William is of course subject at any time, sir, to be taken off her 
balance by the elements. She is not formed superior to tht^t.'^ 

" No," returned Mr. Redlaw good-naturedly, though abruptly. 

" No, sir. Mrs. WilHam may be taken off her balance by Earth ; as 
for example, last Sunday week, when sloppy and greasy, and she 
going out to tea vdth her newest sister-in-law, and having a pride in 
herself, and wishing to appear perfectly spotless though pedestrian. 
Mrs. WilHam may be taken off her balance by Air ; as being once over- 
persuaded by a friend to try a swing at Peckham Fair, which acted on her 
constitution instantly like a steam-boat. Mrs. WilHam may be taken 
off her balance by Fire ; as on a false alarm of engines at her mother's, 
when she went two miles in her nightcap. Mrs. WilHam may be taken 
off her balance by Water ; as at Battersea, when rowed into the piers by 
her young nephew, Charley Swidger junior, aged twelve, which had no 
idea of boats whatever. But these are elements. Mrs. WilHam must be 
taken out of elements for the strength of her character to come into 
play" 



THE HAUNTED MAN 245 

As he stopped for a reply, the reply was " Yes," in the same tone as 

before. . , .„ .. . , 

" Yes sir. Oh dear, yes ! " said Mr. Swidger, still proceeding with 
his preparations, and checking them off as he made them. " That's 
where it is, sir. That's what I always say myself, sir. Such a many of us 
Swidgers !— Pepper. Why there's my father, sir, superannuated keeper 
and custodian of this Institution, eigh-ty-seven year old. He's a 
Swidger ! — Spoon." 

" True, William," was the patient and abstracted answer, when he 

stopped again. - ^r 

" Yes sir," said Mr. Swidger. " That's what I always say, sir. You 
may call him the trunk of the tree !— Bread. Then you come to his 
successor, my unworthy self— Salt— and Mrs. WiUiam, Swidgers both.— 
Knife and fork. Then you come to all my brothers and their famihes, 
Swidgers, man and woman, boy and girl. Why, what with cousins 
uncles, aunts, and relationships of this, that, and t'other degree, and 
what-not-degree, and marriages, and lyings-in, the Swidgers--Tumbler 
—might take hold of hands, and make a ring round England ! " 

Receiving no reply at all here, from the thoughtful man whom he 
addressed, Mr. WilHam approached him nearer, and made a feint of 
accidentally knocking the table with a decanter, to rouse him. The 
moment he succeeded, he went on, as if in great alacrity of acquiescence. 

" Yes, sir ! That's just what I say myself, sir. Mrs. Wilham and me 
have often said so. ' There's Swidgers enough,' we say, ' without our 
voluntary contributions,'— Butter. In fact, sir, my father is a family in 
himself— Castors— to take care of ; and it happens all for the best that 
we have no child of our own, though it's made Mrs. William rather quiet- 
like, too. Quite ready for the fowl and mashed potatoes, sir ? Mrs. 
William said she'd dish in ten minutes when I left the Lodge." 

" I am quite ready," said the other, waking as from a dream, and walk- 
ing slowly to and fro. 

" Mrs. William has been at it again, sir ! " said the keeper, as he stood 
warming a plate at the fire, and pleasantly shading his face with it. Mr. 
Redlaw stopped in his walking, and an expression of interest appeared m 
him. 

" What I always say myself, sir. She zvill do it ! There's a^motherly 
feeHng in Mrs. William's breast that must and will have went." 

" What has she done ? " 

" Why, sir, not satisfied with being a sort of mother to all the young 
gentlemen that come up from a wariety of parts, to attend your courses 
of lectures at this ancient foundation— it's surprising how stone-chaney 
catches the heat this frosty weather, to be sure !" Here he turned the 
plate, and cooled his fingers. 

" Well ? " said Mr. Redlaw. 

" That's just what I say myself, sir," returned Mr. Wilham, speaking 
over his shoulder, as if in ready and deUghted assent. " That's exactly 



246 THE HAUNTED MAN 

where it is, sir ! There ain't one of our students but appears to regard 
Mrs. WiUiam in that light. Every day, right through the course, they 
puts their heads into the Lodge, one after another, and have all got 
something to tell her, or something to ask her. ' Swidge ' is the appella- 
tion by which they speak of Mrs. William in general, among themselves, 
I'm told ; but that's what I say, sir. Better be called ever so far out of 
your name, if it's done in real liking, than have it made ever so much of, 
and not cared about ! What's a name for ? To know a person by. If 
Mrs. WilHam is known by something better than her name — I allude to 
Mrs. William's qualities and disposition — never mind her name, though 
it is Swidger, by rights. Let 'em call her Swidge, Widge, Bridge — 
Lord ! London Bridge, Blackfriars, Chelsea, Putney, Waterloo, or 
Hammersmith Suspension — if they like." 

The close of this triumphant oration brought him and the plate to the 
table, upon which he half laid and half dropped it, with a Hvely sense of 
its being thoroughly heated, just as the subject of his praises entered the 
room, bearing another tray and a lantern, and followed by a venerable 
old man with long grey hair. 

Mrs. WiUiam, like Mr. William, was a simple, innocent-looking person, 
in whose smooth cheeks the cheerful red of her husband's official waist- 
coat was very pleasantly repeated. But whereas Mr. WilHam's light 
hair stood on end all over his head, and seemed to draw his eyes up with 
it in an excess of busthng readiness for anything, the dark brown hair of 
Mrs. William was carefully smoothed down, and waved away under a 
trim tidy cap, in the most exact and quiet manner imaginable. Whereas 
Mr. William's very trousers hitched themselves up at the ankles, as if it 
were not in their iron-grey nature to rest without looking about them, 
Mrs. WilHam's neatly-flowered skirts — red and white, like her own 
pretty face — ^were as composed and orderly, as if the very wind that blew 
so hard out of doors could not disturb one of their folds. Whereas his 
coat had something of a fly-away and half-oif appearance about the 
collar and breast, her little bodice was so placid and neat, that there 
should have been protection for her, in it, had she needed any, with the 
roughest people. Who could have had the heart to make so calm a 
bosom swell with grief, or throb with fear, or flutter with a thought of 
shame ! To whom would its repose and peace have not appealed 
against disturbance, like the innocent slumber of a child ! 

" Punctual, of course, Milly," said her husband, relieving her of the 
tray, " or it wouldn't be you. Here's Mrs. WiUiam, sir ! — He looks 
lonelier than ever to-night," whispering to his wife, as he was taking the 
tray, " and ghosther altogether." 

Without any show of hurry or noise, or any show of herself even, she 
was so calm and quiet, MiUy set the dishes she had brought upon the 
table, — Mr. William, after much clattering and running about, having 
only gained possession of a butter-boat of gravy, which he stood ready 
to serve. 



THE HAUNTED MAN 247 

" What is that the old man has in his arms ? " asked Mr. Redlaw, as 
he sat down to his soHtary meal. 

" Holly, sir," replied the quiet voice of Milly. 

" That's what I say myself, sir," interposed Mr. William, striking in 
with the butter-boat. " Berries is so seasonable to the time of year ! — 
Brown gravy ! " 

" Another Christmas come, another year gone ! " murmured the 
Chemist, with a gloomy sigh. " More figures in the lengthening sum of 
recollection that we work and work at to our torment, till Death idly 
jumbles all together, and rubs all out. So Phihp ! " breaking off, and 
raising his voice as he addressed the old man, standing apart, with his 
glistening burden in his arms, from which the quiet Mrs. William took 
small branches, which she noiselessly trimmed with her scissors, and 
decorated the room with, while her aged father-in-law looked on much 
interested in the ceremony. 

" My duty to you, sir," returned the old man. " Should have spoke 
before, sir, but know your ways, Mr. Redlaw — ^proud to say — and wait 
till spoke to ! Merry Christmas, sir, and Happy New Year, and many of 
'em. Have had a pretty many of 'em myself — ha, ha ! — and may take 
the liberty of wishing 'em. I'm eighty-seven ! " 

" Have you had so many that were merry and happy ? " asked the 
other. 

" Ay, sir, ever so many," returned the old man. 

" Is his memory impaired with age ? It is to be expected now," said 
Mr. Redlaw, turning to the son, and speaking lower. 

" Not a morsel of it, sir," replied Mr. William. " That's exactly 
what I say myself, sir. There never was such a memory as my father's. 
He's the most wonderful man in the world. He don't know what 
forgetting means. It's the very observation I'm always making to Mrs. 
WiUiam, sir, if you'll beheve me ! " 

Mr. Swidger, in his polite desire to seem to acquiesce at all events, 
delivered this as if there were no iota of contradiction in it, and it were 
all said in unbounded and unqualified assent. 

The Chemist pushed his plate away, and, rising from the table, walked 
across the room to where the old man stood looking at a little sprig of 
holly in his hand. 

" It recalls the time when many of those years were old and new, 
then ? " he said, observing him attentively, and touching him on the 
shoulder. " Does it ? " 

" Oh many, many ! " said Philip, half awaking from his reverie. " I'm 
eighty-seven ! " 

" Merry and happy, was it ? " asked the Chemist in a low voice. 
" Merry and happy, old man ? " 

" Maybe as high as that, no higher," said the old man, holding out his 
hand a little way above the level of his knee, and looking retrospectively 
at his questioner, " when I first remember 'em ! Cold, sunshiny day it 



248 THE HAUNTED MAN 

/ was, out a-walking, when some one — it was my mother as sure as you 

stand there, though I don't know what her blessed face was Hke, for she 
took ill and died that Christmas-time — told me they were food for birds. 
The pretty little fellow thought — that's me, you understand — that birds' 
eyes were so bright, perhaps, because the berries that they lived on in the 
winter were so bright. I recollect that. And I'm eighty-seven ! " 

" Merry and happy ! " mused the other, bending his dark eyes upon 
the stooping figure, with a smile of compassion, " Merry and happy — 
and remember well ? " 

" Ay, ay, ay ! " resumed the old man, catching the last words. " I 
remember 'em well in my school time, year after year, and all the merry- 
making that used to come along with them. I was a strong chap then, 
Mr. Redlaw ; and, if you'll beheve me, hadn't my match at football 
within ten mile. Where's my son William ? Hadn't my match at 
football, William, within ten mile ! " 

" That's what I always say, father ! " returned the son promptly, and 
with great respect. " You are a Swidger, if ever there was one of the 
family ! " 

" Dear ! " said the old man, shaking his head as he again looked at the 
holly. " His mother — my son WilHam's my youngest son — and I, have 
sat among 'em all, boys and girls, little children and babies, many a year, 
when the berries like these were not shining half so bright all round us, 
as their bright faces. Many of 'em are gone ; she's gone ; and my son 
George (our eldest, who was her pride more than all the rest !) is fallen 
very low : but I can see them, when I look here, alive and healthy, as 
they used to be in those days ; and I can see him, thank God, in his 
innocence. It's a blessed thing to me, at eighty-seven." 

The keen look that had been fixed upon him with so much earnestness, 
had gradually sought the ground. 

" When my circumstances got to be not so good as formerly, through 
not being honestly dealt by, and I first come here to be custodian," said 
the old man, " — which was upwards of fifty years ago — ^where's my son 
William f More than half a century ago, William ! " 

" That's what I say, father," repHed the son, as promptly and duti- 
fully as before, " that's exactly where it is. Two times ought's an ought, 
and twice five ten, and there's a hundred of 'em." 

" — It was quite a pleasure to know that one of our founders — or more 
correctly speaking," said the old man, with a great glory in his subject 
and his knowledge of it, " one of the learned gentlemen that helped 
endow us in Queen Elizabeth's time, for we were founded afore her day — 
left in his will, among the other bequests he made us, so much to buy 
holly, for garnishing the walls and windows come Christmas. There 
was something homely and friendly in it. Being but strange here, then, 
and coming at Christmas time, we took a liking for his very picter that 
hangs in what used to be, anciently, afore our ten poor gentlemen com- 
muted for an annual stipend in money, our great Dinner Hall. — ^A 



THE HAUNTED MAN 249 

sedate gentleman in a peaked beard, with a ruff round his neck, and a 
scroll below him, in old EngHsh letters, ' Lord ! keep my memory green ! ' 
You know all about him, Mr. Redlaw ? " 

" I know the portrait hangs there, PhiHp." 

" Yes, sure, it's the second on the right, above the panelhng. I was 
going to say — he has helped to keep my memory green, I thank him ; for 
going round the building every year, as I'm a doing now, and freshening 
up the bare rooms with these branches and berries, freshens up my bare 
old brain. One year brings back another, and that year another, and 
those others numbers ! At last, it seems to me as if the birth- time of our 
Lord was the birth-time of all I have ever had affection for, or mourned 
for, or delighted in, — and they're a pretty many, for I'm eighty-seven ! " 

" Merry and happy," murmured Redlaw to himself. 

The room began to darken strangely. 

" So you see, sir," pursued old Philip, whose hale wintry cheek had 
warmed into a ruddier glow, and whose blue eyes had brightened while 
he spoke, " I have plenty to keep, when I keep this present season. Now, 
where's my quiet Mouse ? Chattering's the sin of my time of life, and 
there's half the building to do yet, if the cold don't freeze us first, or the 
wind don't blow us away, or the darkness don't swallow us up." 

The quiet Mouse had brought her calm face to his side, and silently 
taken his arm, before he finished speaking. 

" Come away, my dear," said the old man, " Mr. Redlaw won't 
settle to his dinner, otherwise, till it's cold as the winter. I hope you'll 
excuse me ram.bling on, sir, and I wish you good night, and, once again, 
a merry " 

" Stay ! " said Mr. Redlaw, resuming his place at the table, more, it 
would have seemed from his manner, to re-assure the old keeper, than in 
any remembrance of his own appetite. " Spare me another moment, 
Philip. William, you were going to tell me something to your excellent 
wife's honour. It will not be disagreeable to her to hear you praise her. 
What was it ? " 

" Why, that's where it is, you see, sir," returned Mr. William Swidger, 
looking towards his wife in considerable embarrassment. " Mrs. 
Wilham's got her eye upon me." 

" But you're not afraid of Mrs. William's eye ? " 

" Why, no, sir," returned Mr. Swidger, " that's what I say myself. It 
wasn't made to be afraid of. It wouldn't have been made so mild, if 
that was the intention. But I wouldn't like to — Milly ! — him, you know. 
Down in the Buildings." 

Mr. Wilham, standing behind the table, and rummaging disconcertedly 
among the objects upon it, directed persuasive glances at Mrs. William, 
and secret jerks of his head and thumb at Mr. Redlaw, as alluring her 
towards him. 

" Him, you know, my love," said Mr. Wilham. " Down in the 
Buildings. Tell, my dear ! You're the works of Shakespeare in com- 



250 THE HAUNTED MAN 

parison with myself. Down in the Buildings, you know, my love.— 

Student." ^^ . . ^. , , 

" Student ? " repeated Mr. Redlaw, raismg his head. 

" That's what I say, sir ! " cried Mr. William, in the utmost animation 
of assent " If it wasn't the poor student down in the Buildings, why 
should you wish to hear it from Mrs. WiUiam's lips ? Mrs. WiUiam, my 
dear— Buildings." . . i r r 

" I didn't know," said Milly, with a quiet frankness, free from any 
haste or confusion, " that WilHam had said anything about it, or I 
wouldn't have come. I asked him not to. It's a sick young gentleman, 
sir— and very poor, I am afraid— who is too iU to go home this holiday- 
time, and hves, unknown to any one, in but a common kind of lodging 
for a' gentleman, down in Jerusalem Buildings. That's all, sir." 

" Why have I never heard of him ? " said the Chemist, rising hurriedly. 
" Why has he not made his situation known to me ? Sick !— give nde my 
hat and cloak. Poor !— what house .?— what number ? " 

" Oh, you mustn't go there, sir," said Milly, leaving her father-in-law, 
and calmly confronting him with her collected little face and folded 
hands. 

" Not go there ? " 

" Oh dear, no ! " said Milly, shaking her head as at a most manifest and 
self-evident impossibihty. " It couldn't be thought of ! " 

" What do you mean ? Why not ? " 

" Why, you see, sir," said Mr. William Swidger, persuasively and con- 
fidentially, " that's what I say. Depend upon it, the young gentleman 
would never have made his situation known to one of his own sex. Mrs, 
William has got into his confidence, but that's quite different. They all 
confide in Mrs. William ; they all trust her. A man, sir, couldn't have 
got a whisper out of him ; but woman, sir, and Mrs. William com- 
bined !" 

" There is good sense and dehcacy in what you say, WiUiam," re- 
turned Mr. Redlaw, observant of the gentle and composed face at his 
shoulder. And laying his finger on his lip, he secretly put his purse into 
her hand. 

" Oh dear no, sir ! " cried Milly, giving it back again. " Worse and 
worse ! Couldn't be dreamed of ! " 

Such a staid matter-of-fact housewife she was, and so unruffled by the 
momentary haste of this rejection, that, an instant afterwards, she was 
tidily picking up a few leaves which had strayed from between her 
scissors and her apron, when she had arranged the holly. 

Finding, when she rose from her stooping posture, that Mr. Redlaw 
was still regarding her with doubt and astonishment, she quietly repeated 
— looking about, the while, for any other fragments that might have 
escaped her observation : 

" Oh dear no, sir ! He said that of all the world he would not be 
known to you, or receive help from you — though he is a student in your 



THE HAUNTED MAN 251 

class. I have made no terms of secrecy with you, but I trust to your 
honour completely." 

" Why did he say so ? " 

" Indeed I can't tell, sir," said Milly, after thinking a httle, " because 
I am not at all clever, you know ; and I wanted to be useful to him in 
making things neat and comfortable about him, and employed myself 
that way. But I know he is poor, and lonely, and I think he is somehow 
neglected too. — How dark it is ! " 

The room had darkened more and more. There was a very heavy 
gloom and shadow gathering behind the Chemist's chair. 

" What more about him .? " he asked. 

" He is engaged to be married when he can afford it," said Milly, 
" and is studying, I think, to qualify himself to earn a living. I have seen, 
a long time, that he has studied hard and denied himself much. — How 
very dark it is ! " 

" It's turned colder, too," said the old man, rubbing his hands. 
" There's a chill and dismal feeling in the room. Where's my son 
WiUiam ? WilHam, my boy, turn the lamp, and rouse the fire ! " 

Milly's voice resumed, like quiet music very softly played : 

" He muttered in his broken sleep yesterday afternoon, after talking 
to me " (this was to herself) " about some one dead, and some great 
wrong done that could never be forgotten ; but whether to him or to 
another person, I don't know. Not by him, I am sure." 

" And, in short, Mrs. WilHam, you see — ^which she wouldn't say herself, 
Mr. Redlaw, if she was to stop here till the new year after this next one — " 
said Mr. William, coming up to him to speak in his ear, " has done him 
worlds of good ! Bless you, worlds of good ! All at home just the same 
as ever — my father made as snug and comfortable — not a crumb of litter 
to be found in the house, if you were to offer fifty pound ready money 
for it — Mrs. William apparently never out of the way — yet Mrs. Wilham 
backwards and forwards, backwards and forvs'ards, up and down, up and 
down, a mother to him ! " 

The room turned darker and colder, and the gloom and shadow 
gathering behind the chair was heavier. 

" Not content with this, sir, Mrs. William goes and finds, this very 
night, when she was coming home (why it's not above a couple of hours 
ago), a creature more like a young wild beast than a young child, shivering 
upon a doorstep. What does Mrs. William do, but brings it home to dry 
it, and feed it, and keep it till our old Bounty of food and flannel is given 
away, on Christmas morning ! If it ever felt a fire before, it's as much as 
ever it did ; for it's sitting in the old Lodge chimney, staring at ours as if 
its ravenous eyes would never shut again. It's sitting there, at least," 
said Mr. WilHam, correcting himself, on reflection, " unless it's bolted ! " 

" Heaven keep her happy ! " said the Chemist aloud, " and you too, 
Philip ! and you, WilHam ! I must consider what to do in this. I may 
desire to see this student, I'll not detain you longer now. Good night ! " 



252 THE HAUNTED MAN 

" I thank'ee, sir, I thank'ee ! " said the old man, " for Mouse, and for 
my son William, and for myself. Where's my son William ? William, 
you take the lantern and go on first, through them long dark passages, as 
you did last year and the year afore. Ha ha ! / remember — though I'm 
eighty-seven ! ' Lord keep my memory green ! ' It's a very good 
prayer, Mr. Redlav^r, that of the learned gentleman in the peaked beard, 
with a ruff round his neck — hangs up, second on the right above the 
panelling, in what used to be, afore our ten poor gentlemen commuted, 
our great Dinner Hall. ' Lord keep my memory green ! ' It's very 
good and pious, sir. Amen ! Amen ! " 

As they passed out and shut the heavy door, which, however carefully 
withheld, fired a long train of thundering reverberations when it shut at 
last, the room turned darker. 

As he fell a musing in his chair alone, the healthy holly withered on 
the wall, and dropped — dead branches. 

As the gloom and shadow thickened behind him, in that place where it 
had been gathering so darkly, it took, by slow degrees, — or out of it there 
came, by some unreal, unsubstantial process — not to be traced by any 
human sense, — an awful likeness of himself ! 

Ghastly and cold, colourless in its leaden face and hands, but with his 
features, and his bright eyes, and his grizzled hair, and dressed in the 
gloomy shadow of his dress, it came into his terrible appearance of exist- 
ence, motionless, without a sound. As he leaned his arm upon the elbow 
of his chair, ruminating before the fire, it leaned upon the chair-back, 
close above him, with its appalling copy of his face looking where his face 
looked, and bearing the expression his face bore. 

This, then, was the Something that had passed and gone already. 
This was the dread companion of the haunted man ! 

It took, for some moments, no more apparent heed of him, than he of 
it. The Christmas Waits were playing somewhere in the distance, and, 
through his thoughtfulness, he seemed to hsten to the music. It seemed 
to listen too. 

At length he spoke ; without moving or lifting up his face. 

" Here again ! " he said. 

" Here again," rephed the Phantom. 

" I see you in the fire," said the haunted man ; " I hear you in the 
music, in the wind, in the dead stillness of the night." 

The Phantom moved its head, assenting. 

" Why do you come, to haunt me thus .? " 

" I come as I am called," replied the Ghost. 

" No. Unbidden," exclaimed the Chemist. 

" Unbidden be it," said the Spectre. " It is enough. I am here." 

Hitherto the light of the fire had shone on the two faces— if the dread 
lineaments behind the chair might be called a face— both addressed 
towards it, as at first, and neither looking at the other. But now, the 
haunted man turned, suddenly, and stared upon the Ghost. The 



THE HAUNTED MAN 253 

Ghost, as sudden in its motion, passed to before the chair, and stared on 
him. 

The hving man, and the animated image of himself dead, might so have 
looked, the one upon the other. An awful survey, in a lonely and remote 
part of an empty old pile of building, on a winter night, with the loud 
wind going by upon its journey of mystery — whence, or whither, no man 
knowing since the world began — and the stars, in unimaginable millions, 
glittering through it, from eternal space, where the world's bulk is as a 
grain, and its hoary age is infancy. 

" Look upon me ! " said the Spectre. " I am he, neglected in my 
youth, and miserably poor, who strove and suffered, and still strove and 
suffered, until I hewed out knowledge from the mine where it was buried, 
and made rugged steps thereof, for my worn feet to rest and rise on." 

" I am that man," returned the Chemist. 

" No mother's self-denying love," pursued the Phantom, " no father's 
counsel, aided me. A stranger came into my father's place when I was 
but a child, and I was easily an alien from my mother's heart. My 
parents, at the best, were of that sort whose care soon ends, and whose 
duty is soon done ; who cast their offspring loose, early, as birds do theirs ; 
and, if they do well, claim the merit ; and, if ill, the pity." 

It paused, and seemed to tempt and goad him with its look, and with 
the manner of its speech, and with its smile. 

" I am he," pursued the Phantom, " who, in this struggle upward, 
found a friend. I made him — won him — bound him to me ! We 
worked together, side by side. All the love and confidence that in my 
earlier youth had had no outlet, and found no expression, I bestowed on 
him." 

" Not all," said Redlaw, hoarsely. 

" No, not all," returned the Phantom. " I had a sister." 

The haunted man, with his head resting on his hands, replied " I 
had ! " The Phantom, with an evil smile, drew closer to the chair, and 
resting its chin upon its folded hands, its folded hands upon the back, and 
looking down into his face with searching eyes, that seemed instinct with 
fire, went on : 

" Such glimpses of the light of home as I had ever known, had streamed 
from her. How young she was, how fair, how loving ! I took her to the 
first poor roof that I was master of, and made it rich. She came into the 
darkness of my Hfe, and made it bright. — She is before me ! " 

" I saw her, in the fire, but now. I hear her in music, in the wind, in 
the dead stillness of the night," returned the haunted man. 

" Did he love her ? " said the Phantom, echoing his contemplative 
tone. " I think he did, once. I am sure he did. Better had she loved 
him less — less secretly, less dearly, from the shallower depths of a more 
divided heart ! " 

" Let me forget it ! " said the Chemist, with an angry motion of his 
hand. " Let me blot it from my memory ! " 



254 THE HAUNTED MAN 

The Spectre, without stirring, and with its unwinking, cruel eyes still 
fixed upon his face, went on : 

" A dream, like hers, stole upon my own life." 

" It did," said Redlaw. 

" A love, as like hers," pursued the Phantom, " as my inferior nature 
might cherish, arose in my own heart. I was too poor to bind its object 
to my fortune then, by any thread of promise or entreaty. I loved her 
far too well, to seek to do it. But, more than ever I had striven in my 
life, I strove to cHmb. Only an inch gained, brought me something 
nearer to the height. I toiled up ! In the late pauses of my labour at 
that time, — my sister (sweet companion !) still sharing v^rith me the 
expiring embers and the cooling hearth, — when day was breaking, what 
pictures of the future did I see ! " 

" 1 saw them, in the fire, but now," he murmured. " They come 
back to me in music, in the wind, in the dead stillness of the night, in the 
revolving years." 

" — Pictures of my own domestic life, in after-time, with her who was 
the inspiration of my toil. Pictures of my sister, made the wife of my 
dear friend, on equal terms — for he had some inheritance, we none — 
pictures of our sobered age and mellowed happiness, and of the golden 
links, extending back so far, that should bind us, and our children, in a 
radiant garland," said the Phantom. 

" Pictures," said the haunted man, " that were delusions. Why is it 
my doom to remember them too well ! " 

" Delusions," echoed the Phantom in its changeless voice, and glaring 
on him with its changeless eyes. " For my friend (in whose breast my 
confidence was locked as in my own), passing between me and the centre 
of the system of my hopes and struggles, won her to himself, and shattered 
my frail universe. My sister, doubly dear, doubly devoted, doubly 
cheerful in my home, lived on to see me famous, and my old ambition so 
rewarded when its spring was broken, and then " 

" Then died," he interposed. " Died, gentle as ever ; happy ; and 
with no concern but for her brother. Peace ! " 

The Phantom watched him silently. 

" Remembered ! " said the haunted man, after a pause. " Yes. So 
well remembered, that even now, when years have passed, and nothing is 
more idle or more visionary to me than the boyish love so long outlived, 
I think of it with sympathy, as if it were a younger brother's or a son's. 
Sometimes I even wonder when her heart first inclined to him, and how 
it had been affected towards me. — Not lightly, once, I think. — But that 
is nothing. Early unhappiness, a wound from a hand I loved and trusted, 
and a loss that nothing can replace, outlive such fancies." 

" Thus," said the Phantom, " I bear within me a Sorrow and a Wrong. 
Thus I prey upon myself. Thus, memory is my curse ; and, if I could 
forget my sorrow and my wrong, I would ! " 

" Mocker ! " said the Chemist, leaping up, and making, with a wrathful 



THE HAUNTED MAN 255 

hand, at the throat of his other self. " Why have I always that taunt in 
my ears ? " 

" Forbear ! " exclaimed the Spectre in an awful voice. " Lay a hand 
on Me, and die ! " 

He stopped midway, as if its words had paralysed him, and stood look- 
ing on it. It had glided from him ; it had its arm raised high in warning ; 
and a smile passed over its unearthly features, as it reared its dark figure 
in triumph. 

" If I could forget my sorrow and wrong, I would," the Ghost 
repeated. " If I could forget my sorrow and my wrong, I would ! " 

" Evil spirit of myself," returned the haunted man, in a low, trembling 
tone, " my life is darkened by that incessant whisper." 

" It is an echo," said the Phantom. 

" If it be an echo of my thoughts — as now, indeed, I know it is," 
rejoined the haunted man, " why should I, therefore, be tormented ^ 
It is not a selfish thought. I suflFer it to range beyond myself. All men 
and women have their sorrows, — most of them their wrongs ; ingrati- 
tude, and sordid jealousy, and interest, besetting all degrees of life. Who 
would not forget their sorrows and their wrongs ? " 

" Who would not, truly, and be the happier and better for it .? " said 
tlie Phantom. 

" These revolutions of years, which we commemorate," proceeded 
Redlaw, " what do they recall ! Are there any minds in which they do 
not re-awaken some sorrow, or some trouble ? What is the remembrance 
of the old man who was here to-night ? A tissue of sorrow and trouble." 

" But common natures," said the Phantom, with its evil smile upon its 
glassy face, " unenlightened minds and ordinary spirits, do not feel or 
reason on these things like men of higher cultivation and profounder 
thought." 

" Tempter," answered Redlaw, " whose hoUow look and voice I dread 
more than words can express, and from whom some dim foreshadowing 
of greater fear is stealing over me while I speak, I hear again an echo of 
my owTi mind." 

" Receive it as a proof that I am powerful," returned the Ghost. 
" Hear what I ofiFer ! Forget the sorrow, wrong, and trouble you have 
known ! " 

" Forget them ! " he repeated. 

" I have the power to cancel their remembrance — to leave but very 
faint, confused traces of them, that will die out soon," returned the 
Spectre. " Say ! Is it done .? " 

" Stay ! " cried the haunted man, arresting by a terrified gesture the 
uplifted hand. " I tremble with distrust and doubt of you ; and the 
dim fear you cast upon me deepens into a nameless horror I can hardly 
bear. — I would not deprive myself of any kindly recollection, or any 
sympathy that is good for me, or others. What shall I lose, if I 
assent to this ? What else vnH pass from my remembrance i " 



256 THE HAUNTED MAN 

" No knowledge ; no result of study ; nothing but the intertwisted 
chain of feelings and associations, each in its turn dependent on, and 
nourished by, the banished recollections. Those will go." _ 

" Are they so many ? " said the haunted man, reflecting m alarm. 

" They have been wont to show themselves in the fire, in music, in the 
wind, in the dead stillness of the night, in the revolving years," returned 
the Phantom scornfully. 

" In nothing else ? " 

The Phantom held its peace. 

But having stood before him, silent, for a little while, it moved 
towards the fire ; then stopped. 

" Decide ! " it said, " before the opportunity is lost 1 " 

" A moment ! I call Heaven to witness," said the agitated man, 
" that I have never been a hater of my kind, — never morose, indifferent, 
or hard, to anything around me. If, living here alone, I have made too 
much of all that was and might have been, and too little of what is, the 
evil, I believe, has fallen on me, and not on others. But, if there were 
poison in my body, should I not, possessed of antidotes and knowledge 
how to use them, use them ? If there be poison in my mind, and 
through this fearful shadow I can cast it out, shall I not cast it out ? " 

" Say," said the Spectre, " is it done ? " 

" A moment longer ! " he answered hurriedly. " / would jorget it ij I 
could I Have / thought that, alone, or has it been the thought of 
thousands upon thousands, generation after generation ? All human 
memory is fraught with sorrow and trouble. My memory is as the 
memory of other men, but other men have not this choice. Yes, I close 
the bargain. Yes ! I will forget my sorrow, wrong, and trouble ! " 

" Say," said the Spectre, " is it done ? " 

" It is ! " 

" It is. And take this with you, man whom I here renounce ! The 
gift that I have given, you shall give again, go where you will. Without 
recovering yourself the power that you have yielded up, you shall hence- 
forth destroy its like in all whom you approach. Your wisdom has 
discovered that the memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble is the lot of 
all mankind, and that mankind would be the happier, in its other 
memories, without it. Go ! Be its benefactor ! Freed from such 
remembrance, from this hour, carry involuntarily the blessing of such 
freedom with you. Its diffusion is inseparable and inalienable from you. 
Go ! Be happy in the good you have won, and in the good you do ! " 

The Phantom, which had held its bloodless hand above him while it 
spoke, as if in some unholy invocation, or some ban ; and which had 
gradually advanced its eyes so close to his that he could see how they did 
not participate in the terrible smile upon its face, but were a fixed, 
unalterable, steady horror ; melted before him and was gone. 

As he stood rooted to the spot, possessed by fear and wonder, and 
imagining he heard repeated in melancholy echoes, dying away fainter 




'ftM^S^^^^^' 



The Haunted Man 



THE HAUNTED MAN 257 

and fainter, the words, " Destroy its like in all whom you approach ! " a 
shrill cry reached his ears. It came, not from the passages beyond the 
door, but from another part of the old building, and sounded like the cry 
of some one in the dark who had lost the way. 

He looked confusedly upon his hands and limbs, as if to be assured of 
his identity, and then shouted in reply, loudly and wildly ; for there was 
a strangeness and terror upon him, as if he too were lost. 

The cry responding, and being nearer, he caught up the lamp, and 
raised a heavy curtain in the wall, by which he was accustomed to pass 
into and out of the theatre where he lectured, — ^which adjoined his room. 
Associated with youth and animation, and a high amphitheatre of faces 
which his entrance charmed to interest in a moment, it was a ghostly 
place when all this Hfe was faded out of it, and stared upon him like an 
emblem of Death. 

" Halloa ! " he cried. " Halloa ! This way ! Come to the Hght ! " 
When, as he held the curtain with one hand, and with the other raised 
the lamp and tried to pierce the gloom that filled the place, something 
rushed past him into the room like a wild-cat, and crouched down in a 
corner. 

" What is it .? " he said, hastily. 

He might have asked " What is it I " even had he seen it well, as 
presently he did when he stood looking at it gathered up in its corner. 

A bundle of tatters, held together by a hand, in size and form almost 
an infant's, but in its greedy, desperate little clutch, a bad old man's. A 
face rounded and smoothed by some half-dozen years, but pinched and 
twisted by the experiences of a life. Bright eyes, but not youthful. 
Naked feet, beautiful in their childish delicacy, — ugly in the blood and 
dirt that cracked upon them. A baby savage, a young monster, a child 
who had never been a child, a creature who might Hve to take the outward 
form of man, but who, within, would Hve and perish a mere beast. 

Used, already, to be worried and hunted Hke a beast, the boy crouched 
down as he was looked at, and looked back again, and interposed his arm 
to ward off the expected blow. 

" I'll bite," he said, " if you hit me ! " 

The time had been, and not many minutes since, when such a sight as 
this would have wrung the Chemist's heart. He looked upon it now, 
coldly ; but with a heavy effort to remember something — ^he did not 
know what — ^he asked the boy what he did there, and whence he came. 

" Where's the woman ? " he replied. " I want to find the woman." 

" Who .? " 

" The woman. Her that brought me here, and set me by the large 
fire. She was so long gone, that I went to look for her, and lost myself. 
I don't want you. I want the woman," 

He made a spring, so suddenly, to get away, that the dull sound of his 
naked feet upon the floor was near the curtain, when P "^idlaw caught him 
by his rags. 

cc. T 



258 THE HAUNTED MAN 

" Come ! you let me go ! " muttered the boy, struggling, and clench- 
ing his teeth. " I've done nothing to you. Let me go, will you, to the 



woman 



I » 



" That is not the way. There is a nearer one," said Redlaw, detaining 
him, in the same blank effort to remember some association that 
ought, of right, to bear upon this monstrous object. " What is your 
name f " 

" Got none." 

" Where do you live ? " 

"Live! What's that .? " 

The boy shook his hair from his eyes to look at him for a moment, and 
then, twisting round his legs and wrestling with him, broke again into 
his repetition of " You let me go, will you ? I want to find the woman." 

The Chemist led him to the door. " This way," he said, looking at 
him still confusedly, but with repugnance and avoidance, growing out of 
his coldness. " I'll take you to her." 

The sharp eyes in the child's head, wandering round the room, lighted 
on the table where the remnants of the dinner were. 

" Give me some of that ! " he said covetously. 

" Has she not fed you ? " 

" I shall be hungry again to-morrow, sha'n't I ? Ain't I hungry 
every day .? " 

Finding himself released, he bounded at the table like some small 
animal of prey, and hugging to his breast bread and meat, and his own 
rags, all together, said : 

" There ! Now take me to the woman ! " 

As the Chemist, with a new-born dislike to touch him, sternly motioned 
him to follow, and was going out of the door, he trembled and stopped. 

" The gift that I have given, you shall give again, go where you will ! " 

The Phantom's words were blowing in the wind, and the wind blew 
chill upon him. 

" I'll not go there, to-night," he murmured faintly. " I'll go nowhere 
to-night. Boy ! straight down this long-arched passage, and past the 
great dark door into the yard, — you see the fire shining on the window 
there." 

" The woman's fire .? " inquired the boy. 

He nodded, and the naked feet had sprung away. He came back with 
his lamp, locked his door hastily, and sat down in his chair, covering his 
face like one who was frightened at himself. 

For now he was, indeed, alone. Alone, alone. 



CHAPTER II : The Gift Diffused 

A SMALL man sat in a small parlour, partitioned off from a small shop by 
a small screen, pasted all over with small scraps of newspapers. In 
company with the small man, was almost any amount of small children 



THE HAUNTED MAN 259 

you may please to name — at least it seemed so ; they made, in that 
very limited sphere of action, such an imposing effect, in point of 
numbers. 

Of these small fry, two had, by some strong machinery, been got into 
bed in a corner, where they might have reposed snugly enough in the 
sleep of innocence, but for a constitutional propensity to keep awake, and 
also to scuffle in and out of bed. The immediate occasion of these 
predatory dashes at the waking world, was the construction of an oyster- 
shell wall in a corner, by two other youths of tender age ; on which 
fortification the two in bed made harassing descents (like those accursed 
Picts and Scots who beleaguer the early historical studies of most young 
Britons), and then withdrew to their own territory. 

In addition to the stir attendant on these inroads, and the retorts of 
the invaded, who pursued hotly, and made lunges at the bedclothes 
under which the marauders took refuge, another little boy, in another 
little bed, contributed his mite of confusion to the family stock, by casting 
his boots upon the waters ; in other words, by launching these and several 
small objects, inoffensive in themselves, though of a hard substance 
considered as missiles, at the disturbers of his repose, — who were not slow 
to return these compliments. 

Besides which, another Httle boy — the biggest there, but still little — 
was tottering to and fro, bent on one side, and considerably affected in 
his knees by the weight of a large baby, which he was supposed by a 
fiction that obtains sometimes in sanguine families, to be hushing to 
sleep. But oh ! the inexhaustible regions of contemplation and watch- 
fulness into which this baby's eyes were then only beginning to compose 
themselves to stare, over his unconscious shoulder ! 

It was a very Moloch of a baby, on whose insatiate altar the whole 
existence of this particular young brother was offered up a daily sacrifice. 
Its personality may be said to have consisted in its never being quiet, in 
any one place, for five consecutive minutes, and never going to sleep 
when required. " Tetterby's baby " was as well known in the neighbour- 
hood as the postman or the pot-boy. It roved from door-step to 
door-step, in the arms of little Johnny Tetterby, and lagged heavily at 
the rear of troops of juveniles who followed the Tumblers or the Monkey, 
and came up, all on one side, a little too late for everything that was 
attractive, from Monday morning until Saturday night. Wherever 
childhood congregated to play, there was little Moloch making Johnny 
fag and toil. Wherever Johnny desired to stay, little Moloch became 
fractious, and would not remain. Whenever Johnny wanted to go out, 
Moloch was asleep, and must be watched. Whenever Johnny wanted to 
stay at home, Moloch was awake, and must be taken out. Yet Johnny 
was verily persuaded that it was a faultless baby, v^dthout its peer in the 
realm of England, and was quite content to catch meek glimpses of 
things in general from behind its skirts, or over its limp flapping bonnet, 
and to go staggering about with it like a very little porter with a very 



26o THE HAUNTED MAN 

large parcel, which was not directed to anybody, and could never be 
delivered anywhere. 

The small man who sat in the parlour, making fruitless attempts to 
read his newspaper peaceably in the midst of this disturbance, was the 
father of the family, and the chief of the firm described in the inscription 
over the Uttle shop front, by the name and title of A. Tetterby and Co., 
Newsmen. Indeed, strictly speaking, he was the only personage 
answering to that designation, as Co. was a mere poetical abstraction, 
altogether baseless and impersonal. 

Tetterby's was the corner shop in Jerusalem Buildings. There was a 
good show of Hterature in the window, chiefly consisting of picture- 
newspapers out of date, and serial pirates, and footpads. Walking-sticks, 
Hkewise, and marbles, were included in the stock in trade. It had once 
extended into the light confectionery line ; but it would seem that those 
elegancies of life were not in demand about Jerusalem Buildings, for 
nothing connected with that branch of commerce remained in the 
window, except a sort of small glass lantern containing a languishing mass 
of bull's-eyes, which had melted in the summer and congealed in the 
winter until all hope of ever getting them out, or of eating them without 
eating the lantern too, was gone for ever. Tetterby's had tried its hand 
at several things. It had once made a feeble little dart at the toy 
business ; for, in another lantern, there was a heap of minute wax dolls, 
all sticking together upside down, in the direst confusion, vidth their feet 
on one another's heads, and a precipitate of broken arms and legs at the 
bottom. It had made a move in the millinery direction, which a few 
dry, wiry bonnet-shapes remained in a corner of the wdndow to attest. 
It had fancied that a living might He hidden in the tobacco trade, and 
had stuck up a representation of a native of each of the three integral 
portions of the British Empire, in the act of consuming that fragrant 
weed ; with a poetic legend attached, importing that united in one cause 
they sat and joked, one chewed tobacco, one took snuff, one smoked : but 
nothing seemed to have come of it — except flies. Time had been when 
it had put a forlorn trust in imitative jewellery, for in one pane of glass 
there was a card of cheap seals, and another of pencil-cases, and a 
mysterious black amulet of inscrutable intention, labelled ninepence. 
But, to that hour Jerusalem Buildings had bought none of them. In 
short, Tetterby's had tried so hard to get a livelihood out of Jerusalem 
Buildings in one way or other, and appeared to have done so indiflterently 
in all, that the best position in the firm was too evidently Co.'s ; Co., as 
a bodiless creation, being untroubled with the vulgar inconveniences of 
hunger and thirst, being chargeable neither to the poor's-rates nor the 
assessed taxes, and having no young family to provide for. 

Tetterby himself, however, in his little parlour, as already mentioned, 
having the presence of a young family impressed upon his mind in a 
manner too clamorous to be disregarded, or to comport with the quiet 
perusal of a newspaper, laid down his paper, wheeled, in his distraction. 



THE HAUNTED MAN 261 

a few times round the parlour, like an undecided carrier-pigeon, made an 
ineffectual rush at one or two flying little figures in bed-gowns that 
skimmed past him, and then, bearing suddenly down upon the only 
unoffending member of the family, boxed the ears of Httle Moloch's 
nurse. 

" You bad boy ! " said Mr. Tetterby, " haven't you any feeling for 
your poor father after the fatigues and anxieties of a hard winter's day, 
since five o'clock in the morning, but must you vdther his rest, and cor- 
rode his latest intelligence, with your wicious tricks ? Isn't it enough, 
sir, that your brother 'Dolphus is toiling and moiling in the fog and cold, 
and you roUing in the lap of luxury with a — with a baby, and everything 
you can wish for," said Mr. Tetterby, heaping this up as a great climax 
of blessings, " but must you make a wilderness of home, and maniacs of 
your parents ? Must you, Johnny ? Hey ? " At each interrogation, 
Mr. Tetterby made a feint of boxing his ears again, but thought better 
of it, and held his hand. 

" Oh, father ! " whimpered Johnny, " when I wasn't doing anything, 
I'm sure, but taking such care of Sally, and getting her to sleep. Oh, 
father ! " 

" I wish my Httle woman would come home ! " said Mr. Tetterby, 
relenting and repenting, " I only wish my little woman would come 
home ! I ain't fit to deal with 'em. They make my head go round, and 
get the better of me. Oh, Johnny ! Isn't it enough that your dear 
mother has provided you vdth that sweet sister ? " indicating Moloch ; 
"isn't it enough that you were seven boys before, without a ray of gal, 
and that your dear mother went through what she did go through, on 
purpose that you might all of you have a little sister, but must you so 
behave yourself as to make my head swim ? " 

Softening more and more, as his own tender feelings and those of his 
injured son were worked on, Mr. Tetterby concluded by embracing him, 
and immediately breaking away to catch one of the real deUnquents. A 
reasonably good start occurring, he succeeded, after a short but smart 
run, and some rather severe cross-country work under and over the bed- 
steads, and in and out among the intricacies of the chairs, in capturing 
this infant, whom he condignly punished, and bore to bed. This 
example had a powerful, and apparently, mesmeric influence on him of 
the boots, who instantly fell into a deep sleep, though he had been, but 
a moment before, broad awake, and in the highest possible feather. Nor 
was it lost upon the two young architects, who retired to bed, in an 
adjoining closet, with great privacy and speed. The comrade of the 
Intercepted One also shrinking into his nest with similiar discretion, Mr. 
Tetterby, when he paused for breath, found himself unexpectedly in a 
scene of peace. 

" My little woman herself," said Mr. Tetterby, wiping his flushed 
face, " could hardly have done it better ! I only wish my httle woman 
had had it to do, I do indeed ! " 



262 THEHAUNTEDMAN 

Mr. Tetterby sought upon his screen for a passage appropriate to be 
impressed upon his children's minds on the occasion, and read the 
following. 

*' ' It is an undoubted fact that all remarkable men have had remark- 
able mothers, and have respected them in after life as their best friends.' 
Think of your own remarkable mother, my boys," said Mr. Tetterby. 
" and know her value while she is still among you ! " 

He sat down again in his chair by the fire, and composed himself, cross- 
legged, over his newspaper, 

" Let anybody, I don't care who it is, get out of bed again," said 
Tetterby, as a general proclamation, delivered in a very soft-hearted 
manner, " and astonishment will be the portion of that respected con- 
temporary ! " — ^which expression Mr. Tetterby selected from his screen. 
" Johnny, my child, take care of your only sister, Sally ; for she's the 
brightest gem that ever sparkled on your early brow." 

Johnny sat down on a little stool, and devotedly crushed himself 
beneath the weight of Moloch. 

" Ah, what a gift that baby is to you, Johnny ! " said his father, " and 
how thankful you ought to be ! ' It is not generally known,' Johnny," 
he was now referring to the screen again, " ' but it is a fact ascertained, 
by accurate calculations, that the following immense percentage of 
babies never attain to two years old ; that is to say ' " 

" Oh, don't, father, please ! " cried Johnny, " I can't bear it, when 
I think of Sally." 

Mr, Tetterby desisting, Johnny, with a profounder sense of his trust, 
wiped his eyes, and hushed his sister. 

" Your brother 'Dolphus," said his father, poking the fire, " is late 
to-night, Johnny, and will come home hke a lump of ice. What's got 
your precious mother ? " 

" Here's mother, and 'Dolphus too, father ! " exclaimed Johnny, 
" I think," 

*' You're right ! " returned his father, listening, " Yes, that's the 
footstep of my little woman." 

The process of induction, by which Mr. Tetterby had come to the 
conclusion that his wife was a little woman, was his own secret. She 
would have made two editions of himself, very easily. Considered as an 
individual, she was rather remarkable for being robust and portly ; but 
considered with reference to her husband, her dimensions became 
magnificent. Nor did they assume a less imposing proportion, when 
studied with reference to the size of her seven sons, who were but dimin- 
utive. In the case of Sally, however, Mrs. Tetterby had asserted her- 
self, at last ; as nobody knew better than the victim Johnny, who 
weighed and measured that exacting idol every hour in the day. 

Mrs. Tetterby, who had been marketing, and carried a basket, threw 
back her bonnet and shawl, and sitting down, fatigued, commanded 
Johnny to bring his sweet charge to her straightway, for a kiss. Johnny 



I 



THE HAUNTED MAN 263 

having complied, and gone back to his stool and again crushed himself, 
Master Adolphus Tetterby, who had by this time unwound his torso 
out of a prismatic comforter, apparently interminable, requested the 
same favour. Johnny having again compHed, and again gone back to 
his stool, and again crushed himself, Mr. Tetterby, struck by a sudden 
thought, preferred the same claim on his own parental part. The satis- 
faction of this third desire completely exhausted the sacrifice, who had 
hardly breath enough left to get back to his stool, crush himself again, 
and pant at his relations. 

" Whatever you do, Johnny," said Mrs. Tetterby, shaking her head, 
" take care of her, or never look your mother in the face again." 

" Nor your brother," said Adolphus, 

" Nor your father, Johnny," added Mr. Tetterby. 

Johnny, much affected by this conditional renunciation of him, looked 
down at Moloch's eyes to see that they were all right, so far, and skilfully 
patted her back (which was uppermost), and rocked her with his foot. 

" Are you wet, 'Dolphus, my boy ? " said his father. " Come and take 
my chair, and dry yourself." 

" No, father, thank'ee," said Adolphus, smoothing himself down with 
his hands. " I ain't very wet, I don't think. Does my face shine much, 
father ? " 

" Well, it does look waxy, my boy," returned Mr. Tetterby. 

" It's the weather, father," said Adolphus, pohshing his cheeks on the 
worn sleeve of his jacket. " What with rain, and sleet, and wind, and 
snow, and fog, my face gets quite brought out into a rash sometimes. 
And shines, it does — oh, don't it, though ! " 

Master Adolphus was also in the newspaper Hne of life, being employed, 
by a more thriving firm than his father and Co., to vend newspapers at 
a railway station, where his chubby little person, like a shabbily-disguised 
Cupid, and his shrill little voice (he was not much more than ten years 
old), were as well known as the hoarse panting of the locomotives, run- 
ning in and out. His juvenility might have been at some loss for a 
harmless outlet, in this early appHcation to trafiic, but for a fortunate 
discovery he made of a means of entertaining himself, and of dividing the 
long day into stages of interest, without neglecting business. This 
ingenious invention, remarkable, like many great discoveries, for its 
simplicity, consisted in varying the first vowel in the word " paper," 
and substituting, in its stead, at different periods of the day, all the 
other vowels in grammatical succession. Thus, before daylight in the 
winter-time, he went to and fro, in his little oilskin cap and cape, and 
his big comforter, piercing the heavy air with his cry of " Morn-ing 
Pa-per ! " which, about an hour before noon, changed to " Morn-ing 
Pep-per ! " which at about two, changed to " Morn-ing Pip-per ! " 
which, in a couple of hours, changed to " Morn-ing Pop-per ! " and 
so declined with the sun into " Eve-ning Pup-per ! " to the great relief 
and comfort of this young gentleman's spirits. 



264 THE HAUNTED MAN 

Mrs. Tetterby, his lady-mother, who had been sitting with her 
bonnet and shawl thrown back, as aforesaid, thoughtfully turning her 
wedding-ring round and round upon her finger, now rose, and divesting 
herself of her out-of-door attire, began to lay the cloth for supper. 

" Ah, dear me, dear me, dear me ! " said Mrs. Tetterby. " That's 
the way the world goes ! " 

" Which is the way the world goes, my dear ? " asked Mr. Tetterby, 
looking round. 

" Oh, nothing," said Mrs. Tetterby. 

Mr. Tetterby elevated his eyebrows, folded his newspaper afresh, and 
carried his eyes up it, and down it, and across it, but was wandering in 
his attention, and not reading it. 

Mrs. Tetterby, at the same time, laid the cloth, but rather as if she 
were punishing the table than preparing the family supper ; hitting it 
unnecessarily hard with the knives and forks, slapping it with the plates, 
dinting it with the salt-cellar, and coming heavily down upon it with 
the loaf. 

" Ah, dear me, dear me, dear me ! " said Mrs. Tetterby. " That's 
the way the world goes ! " 

" My duck," returned her husband, looking round again, " you said 
that before. Which is the way the world goes ? " 

" Oh, nothing ! " said Mrs. Tetterby. 

" Sophia ! " remonstrated her husband, " you said that before, too." 

" Well, I'll say it again if you like," returned Mrs. Tetterby. " Oh 
nothing — there ! And again if you like, oh nothing — there ! And again 
if you like, oh nothing — now then ! " 

Mr. Tetterby brought his eye to bear upon the partner of his bosom, 
and said, in mild astonishment : 

" My little woman, what has put you out t " 

" I'm sure / don't know," she retorted. " Don't ask me. Who said 
I was put out at all .? / never did." 

Mr. Tetterby gave up the perusal of his newspaper as a bad job, and, 
taking a slow walk across the room, with his hands behind him, and his 
shoulders raised — his gait according perfectly with the resignation of 
his manner — addressed himself to his two eldest offspring. 

" Your supper will be ready in a minute, 'Dolphus," said Mr. Tet- 
terby. " Your mother has been out in the wet, to the cook's shop, to 
buy it. It was very good of your mother so to do. Tou shall get some 
supper too, very soon, Johnny. Your mother's pleased with you, my 
man, for being so attentive to your precious sister." 

Mrs. Tetterby, v^thout any remark, but with a decided subsidence 
of her animosity towards the table, finished her preparations, and took, 
from her ample basket, a substantial slab of hot pease pudding wrapped 
in paper, and a basin covered with a saucer, which, on being uncovered, 
sent forth an odour so agreeable, that the three pair of eyes in the two 
beds opened v^de and fixed themselves upon the banquet. Mr. Tetterby, 



THE HAUNTED MAN 265 

without regarding this tacit invitation to be seated, stood repeating 
slowly, " Yes, yes, your supper will be ready in a minute, 'Dolphus— > 
your mother went out in the wet, to the cook's shop, to buy it. It was 
very good of your mother so to do " — until Mrs. Tetterby, who had been 
exhibiting sundry tokens of contrition behind him, caught him round 
the neck, and wept. 

" Oh, 'Dolphus ! " said Mrs. Tetterby, " how could I go and behave 
so ? " 

This reconciliation affected Adolphus the younger and Johnny to that 
degree, that they both, as with one accord, raised a dismal cry, which 
had the effect of immediately shutting up the round eyes in the beds, 
and utterly routing the two remaining little Tetterbys, just then stealing 
in from the adjoining closet to see what was going on in the eating way. 

" I am sure, 'Dolphus," sobbed Mrs. Tetterby, " coming home, I 
had no more idea than a child unborn " 

Mr. Tetterby seemed to dislike this figure of speech and observed, 
*' Say than the baby, my dear." 

" — Had no more idea than the baby," said Mrs. Tetterby. — " Johnny, 
don't look at me, but look at her, or she'll fall out of your lap and be 
killed, and then you'll die in agonies of a broken heart, and serve you 
right. — No more idea I hadn't than that darUng, of being cross when I 

came home ; but somehow, 'Dolphus " Mrs. Tetterby paused, and 

again turned her wedding-ring round and round upon her finger. 

" I see ! " said Mr. Tetterby. " I understand ! My little woman was 
put out. Hard times, and hard weather, and hard work, make it trying 
now and then. I see, bless your soul ! No wonder ! 'Dolf, my man," 
continued Mr. Tetterby, exploring the basin with a fork, " here's your 
mother been and bought, at the cook's shop, besides pease pudding, a 
whole knuckle of a lovely roast leg of pork, with lots of crackling left 
upon it, and with seasoning gravy and mustard quite unlimited. Hand 
in your plate, my boy, and begin while it's simmering." 

Master Adolphus, needing no second summons, received his portion 
with eyes rendered moist by appetite, and withdrawing to his particular 
stool, fell upon his supper, tooth and nail. Johnny was not forgotten, 
but received his rations on bread, lest he should, in a flush of gravy, 
trickle any on the baby. He was required, for similar reasons, to keep 
his pudding, when not on active service, in his pocket. 

There might have been more pork on the knucklebone — which 
knucklebone the carver at the cook's shop had assuredly not forgotten 
in carving for previous customers — but there was no stint of seasoning, 
and that is an accessory dreamily suggesting pork, and pleasantly cheating 
the sense of taste. The pease pudding, too, the gravy and mustard, like 
the Eastern rose in respect of the nightingale, if they were not absolutely 
pork, had lived near it ; so, upon the whole, there was the flavour of a 
middle-sized pig. It was irresistible to the Tetterbys in bed, who, though 
professing to slumber peacefully, crawled out when unseen by their 

cc. i' 



266 THE HAUNTED MAN 

parents, and silently appealed to their brothers for any gastronomic 
token of fraternal affection. They, not hard of heart, presenting scraps 
in return, it resulted that a party of light skirmishers in night-gowns 
were careering about the parlour all through supper, which harassed 
Mr. Tetterby exceedingly, and once or twice imposed upon him the 
necessity of a charge, before which these guerilla troops retired in all 
directions and in great confusion. 

Mrs. Tetterby did not enjoy her supper. There seemed to be some- 
thing on Mrs. Tetterby's mind. At one time she laughed without reason, 
and at another time she cried without reason, and at last she laughed 
and cried together in a manner so very unreasonable that her husband 
was confounded. 

" My httle woman," said Mr. Tetterby, " if the world goes that way, 
it appears to go the wrong way, and to choke you." 

" Give me a drop of water," said Mrs. Tetterby, strugghng with 
herself, " and don't speak to me for the present, or take any notice of 
me. Don't do it ! " 

Mr. Tetterby having administered the water, turned suddenly on 
the unlucky Johnny (who was full of sympathy), and demanded why 
he was wallowing there, in gluttony and idleness, instead of coming 
forward with the baby, that the sight of her might revive his mother. 
Johnny immediately approached, borne dovm by its weight ; but Mrs. 
Tetterby holding out her hand to signify that she was not in a condition 
to bear that trying appeal to her feeHngs, he was interdicted from 
advancing another inch, on pain of perpetual hatred from all his dearest 
connections ; and accordingly retired to his stool again, and crushed 
himself as before. 

After a pause, Mrs. Tetterby said she was better now, and began to 
laugh. 

" My little woman," said her husband, dubiously, " are you quite sure 
you're better ? Or are you, Sophia, about to break out in a fresh direc- 
tion ? " 

" No, 'Dolphus, no," replied his wife. " I'm quite myself." With 
that, settling her hair, and pressing the palms of her hands upon her 
eyes, she laughed again. 

" What a wdcked fool I was, to think so for a moment ! " said Mrs. 
Tetterby. " Come nearer, 'Dolphus, and let me ease my mind, and tell 
you what I mean. Let me tell you all about it." 

Mr. Tetterby bringing his chair closer, Mrs. Tetterby laughed again, 
gave him a hug, and wiped her eyes. 

" You know, 'Dolphus, my dear," said Mrs. Tetterby, " that when I 
was single, I might have given myself away in several directions. At one 
time, four after me at once ; two of them were sons of Mars." 

'* We're all sons of Ma's, my dear," said Mr. Tetterby, " jointly with 
Pa's." 

" I don't mean that," replied his wife, " I mean soldiers — sergeants." 



THE HAUNTED MAN 267 

" Oh ! " said Mr. Tetterby. 

" Well, 'Dolphus, I'm sure I never think of such things now, to regret 
them ; and I'm sure I've got as good a husband, and would do as much 

to prove that I was fond of him, as " 

" As any Httle woman in the world," said Mr. Tetterby. " Very good. 
Very good." 

If Mr. Tetterby had been ten feet high, he could not have expressed 
a gentler consideration for Mrs. Tetterby's fairy-hke stature ; and if 
Mrs. Tetterby had been two feet high, she could not have felt it more 
appropriately her due. 

" But you see, 'Dolphus," said Mrs. Tetterby, " this being Christmas- 
time, when all people who can, make holiday, and when all people who 
have got money, like to spend some, I did, somehow, get a little out of 
sorts when I was in the streets just now. There were so many things to 
be sold — such delicious things to eat, such fine things to look at, such 
delightful things to have — and there was so much calculating and calcu- 
lating necessary, before I durst lay out a sixpence for the commonest 
thing ; and the basket was so large, and wanted so much in it ; and my 
stock of money was so small, and would go such a Httle way ; — you hate 
me, don't you, 'Dolphus \ " 

" Not quite," said Mr. Tetterby, " as yet." 

" Well ! I'll tell you the whole truth," pursued his wife, penitently, 
" and then perhaps you will. I felt all this, so much, when I was trudging 
about in the cold, and when I saw a lot of other calculating faces and 
large baskets trudging about, too, that I began to think whether I 
mightn't have done better, and been happier, if — I — hadn't — " the 
wedding-ring went round again, and Mrs. Tetterby shook her downcast 
head as she turned it. 

" I see," said her husband quietly ; " if you hadn't married at aU, or 
if you had married somebody else ? " 

" Yes," sobbed Mrs. Tetterby. " That's really what I thought. Do 
you hate me now, 'Dolphus ? " 

" Why no," said Mr. Tetterby, " I don't find that I do, as yet." 
Mrs. Tetterby gave him a thankful kiss, and went on. 
" I begin to hope you won't, now, 'Dolphus, though I am afraid I 
haven't told you the worst. I can't think what came over me. I don't 
know whether I was ill, or mad, or what I was, but I couldn't call up 
anything that seemed to bind us to each other, or to reconcile me to my 
fortune. AU the pleasures and enjoyments we had ever had — they seemed 
so poor and insignificant, I hated them. I could have trodden on them. 
And I could think of nothing else, except our being poor, and the 
number of mouths there were at home." 

" Well, well, my dear," said Mr. Tetterby, shaking her hand encourag- 
ingly, " that's truth, after aU. We are poor, and there are a number of 
mouths at home here." 

" Ah ! but, Dolf, Dolf ! " cried his wife, laying her hands upon his 



268 THE HAUNTED MAN 

neck, " my good, kind, patient fellow, when I had been at home a very- 
little while — ^how different ! Oh, Dolf, dear, how different it was ! I 
felt as if there was a rush of recollection on me, all at once, that softened 
my hard heart, and filled it up till it was bursting. All our struggles for 
a livelihood, all our cares and wants since we have been married, all the 
times of sickness, all the hours of watching, we have ever had, by one 
another, or by the children, seemed to speak to me, and say that they 
had made us one, and that I never might have been, or could have been, 
or would have been, any other than the wife and mother I am. Then, 
the cheap enjoyments that I could have trodden on so cruelly, got to be 
so precious to me — ^Oh so priceless, and dear ! — that I couldn't bear to 
think how much I had wronged them ; and I said, and say again a 
hundred times, how could I ever behave so, 'Dolphus, how could I ever 
have the heart to do it ! " 

The good woman, quite carried away by her honest tenderness and 
remorse, was weeping with all her heart, when she started up with a 
scream, and ran behind her husband. Her cry was so terrified, that the 
children started from their sleep and from their beds, and clung about 
her. Nor did her gaze belie her voice, as she pointed to a pale man in a 
black cloak who had come into the room. 

" Look at that man ! Look there ! What does he want ? " 

" My dear," returned her husband, " I'll ask him if you'll let me go. 
What's the matter ? How you shake ! " 

" I saw him in the street, when I was out just now. He looked at me, 
and stood near me. I am afraid of him." 

" Afraid of him ! Why?" 

" I don't know why — I — stop ! husband ! " for he was going towards 
the stranger. 

She had one hand pressed upon her forehead, and one upon her breast ; 
and there was a peculiar fluttering all over her, and a hurried unsteady 
motion of her eyes, as if she had lost something. 

" Are you ill, my dear? " 

" What is it that is going from me again ? " she muttered, in a low 
voice. " What is this that is going away ? " 

Then she abruptly answered : " 111 ? No, I am quite well," and stood 
looking vacantly at the floor. 

Her husband, who had not been altogether free from the infection of 
her fear at first, and whom the present strangeness of her manner did 
not tend to reassure, addressed himself to the pale visitor in the black 
cloak, who stood still, and whose eyes were bent upon the ground. 

" What may be your pleasure, sir," he asked, " with us ? " 

" I fear that my coming in unperceived," returned the visitor, " has 
alarmed you ; but you were talking and did not hear me." 

" My little woman says — ^perhaps you heard her say it," returned 
Mr. Tetterby, " that it's not the first time you have alarmed her to- 
night." 



THE HAUNTED MAN 269 

" I am sorry for it. I remember to have observed her, for a few 
moments only, in the street. I had no intention of frightening her." 

As he raised his eyes in speaking, she raised hers. It was extraordinary 
to see what dread she had of him, and with what dread he observed it — 
and yet how narrowly and closely. 

" My name," he said, " is Redlaw. I come from the old college hard 
by. A young gentleman who is a student there, lodges in your house, 
does he not f " 

" Mr. Denham f " said Tetterby. 

" Yes." 

It was a natural action, and so slight as to be hardly noticeable ; but 
the little man, before speaking again, passed his hand across his forehead 
and looked quickly round the room, as though he were sensible of some 
change in its atmosphere. The Chemist, instantly transferring to him 
the look of dread he had directed towards the wife, stepped back, and 
his face turned paler. 

" The gentleman's room," said Tetterby, "is up stairs, sir. There's a 
more convenient private entrance ; but as you have come in here, it 
will save your going out into the cold, if you'll take this Httle staircase," 
showing one communicating directly with the parlour, " and go up to 
him that way, if you wish to see him." 

" Yes, I wish to see him," said the Chemist. " Can you spare a Hght ? " 

The watchfulness of his haggard look, and the inexplicable distrus 
that darkened it, seemed to trouble Mr. Tetterby. He paused ; and 
looking fixedly at him in return, stood for a minute or so, like a man 
stupefied, or fascinated. 

At length he said, " I'll hght you, sir, if you'U follow me." 

" No," rephed the Chemist, " I don't v^dsh to be attended, or an- 
nounced to him. He does not expect me. I would rather go alone. Please 
to give me the light, if you can spare it, and I'll find the way." 

In the quickness of his expression of this desire, and in taking the 
candle from the newsman, he touched him on the breast. Withdrawing 
his hand hastily, almost as though he had wounded him by accident 
(for he did not know in what part of himself his new power resided, or 
how it was communicated, or how the manner of its reception varied 
in different persons), he turned and ascended the stair. 

But when he reached the top, he stopped and looked down. The 
wofe was standing in the same place, twisting her ring round and round 
upon her finger. The husband, with his head bent forward on his breast, 
was musing heavily and sullenly. The children, still clustering about the 
mother, gazed timidly after the visitor, and nestled together when they 
saw him looking down. 

" Come ! " said the father, roughly. " There's enough of this. Get 
to bed here ! " 

" The place is inconvenient and small enough," the mother added, 
" without you. Get to bed ! " 



270 THE HAUNTED MAN 

The whole brood, scared and sad, crept away ; little Johnny and the 
baby lagging last. The mother, glancing contemptuously round the 
sordid room, and tossing from her the fragments of their meal, stopped 
on the threshold of her task of clearing the table, and sat down, pon- 
dering idly and dejectedly. The father betook himself to the chimney- 
corner, and impatiently raking the small fire together, bent over it as if he 
would monopolise it all. They did not interchange a word. 

The Chemist, paler than before, stole upward like a thief ; looking 
back upon the change below, and dreading equally to go on or return. 

" What have I done ! " he said, confusedly. " What am I going to 
do!" 

" To be the benefactor of mankind," he thought he heard a voice 
reply. 

He looked round, but there was nothing there ; and a passage now 
shutting out the little parlour from his view, he went on, directing his 
eyes before him at the way he went. 

'* It is only since last night," he muttered gloomily, " that I have 
remained shut up, and yet all things are strange to me. I am strange to 
myself. I am here, as in a dream. What interest have I in this place, or 
in any place that I can bring to my remembrance ? My mind is going 
Wind ! " 

There was a door before him, and he knocked at it. Being invited, by 
a voice within, to enter, he complied. 

" Is that my kind nurse ? " said the voice. " But I need not ask her. 
There is no one else to come here." 

It spoke cheerfully, though in a languid tone, and attracted his atten- 
tion to a young man lying on a couch, drawn before the chimney-piece, 
with the back towards the door. A meagre scanty stove, pinched and 
hollowed like a sick man's cheeks, and bricked into the centre of a hearth 
that it could scarcely warm, contained the fire, to which his face was 
turned. Being so near the windy house-top, it wasted quickly, and with 
a busy sound, and the burning ashes dropped down fast. 

They chink when they shoot out here," said the student, smiling, 
" so, according to the gossips, they are not coffins, but purses. I shall 
be well and rich yet, some day, if it please God, and shall live perhaps 
to love a daughter Milly, in remembrance of the kindest nature and the 
gentlest heart in the world." 

He put up his hand as if expecting her to take it, but, being weakened, 
he lay still, with his face resting on his other hand, and did not turn 
round. 

The Chemist glanced about the room ; — at the student's books and 
papers, piled upon a table in a corner, where they, and his extinguished 
reading-lamp, now prohibited and put away, told of the attentive hours 
that had gone before this illness, and perhaps caused it ; — at such signs 
of his old health and freedom, as the out-of-door attire that hung 
idle on the wall ; — at those remembrances of other and less solitary 



THE HAUNTED MAN 271 

scenes, the little miniatures upon the chimney-piece, and the drawing 
of home ; — at that token of his emulation, perhaps, in some sort, of his 
personal attachment too, the framed engraving of himself, the looker- 
on. The time had been, only yesterday, when not one of these 
objects, in its remotest association of interest with the Hving figure 
before him, would have been lost on Redlaw. Now, they were but 
objects ; or, if any gleam of such connection shot upon him, it 
perplexed, and not enhghtened him, as he stood looking round with 
a dull wonder. 

The student, recalHng the thin hand which had remained so long 
untouched, raised himself on the couch, and turned his head. 

" Mr. Redlaw ! " he exclaimed, and started up. 

Redlaw put out his arm. 

" Don't come nearer to me. I will sit here. Remain you, where you 
are ! " 

He sat down on a chair near the door, and having glanced at the 
young man standing leaning with his hand upon the couch, spoke with 
his eyes averted towards the ground. 

" I heard, by an accident, by what accident is no matter, that one of 
my class was ill and solitary. I received no other description of him, 
than that he lived in this street. Beginning my inquiries at the first 
house in it, I have found him." 

" I have been ill, sir," returned the student, not merely with a modest 
hesitation, but with a kind of awe of him, " but am greatly better. An 
attack of fever — of the brain, I believe — ^has weakened me, but I am 
much better. I cannot say I have been solitary, in my illness, or I should 
forget the ministering hand that has been near me." 

" You are speaking of the keeper's wife," said Redlaw. 

" Yes." The student bent his head, as if he rendered her some silent 
homage. 

The Chemist, in whom there was a cold, monotonous apathy, which 
rendered him more like a marble image on the tomb of the man who 
had started from his dinner yesterday at the first mention of this student's 
case, than the breathing man himself, glanced again at the student 
leaning with his hand upon the couch, and looked upon the ground, and 
in the air, as if for light for his blinded mind. 

" I remembered your name," he said, " when it was mentioned to 
me down stairs, just now ; and I recollect your face. We have held 
but very little personal communication together .? " 

" Very Httle." 

" You have retired and withdrawn from me, more than any of the 
rest, I think ? " 

The student signified assent. 

" And why ? " said the Chemist ; not with the least expression of 
interest, but with a moody, wayward kind of curiosity. " Why ? How 
comes it that you have sought to keep especially from me, the knowledge 



272 THE HAUNTED MAN 

of your remaining here, at this season, when all the rest have dispersed, 
and of your being ill ? I want to know why this is ? " 

The young man, who had heard him with increasing agitation, raised 
his downcast eyes to his face, and clasping his hands together, cried with 
sudden earnestness and with trembling lips : 

" Mr. Redlaw ! You have discovered me. You know my secret ! " 
" Secret ? " said the Chemist, harshly. " / know ? " 
" Yes ! Your manner, so different from the interest and sympathy 
which endear you to so many hearts, your altered voice, the constraint 
there is in everything you say, and in your looks," replied the student, 
" warn me that you know me. That you would conceal it, even now, is 
but a proof to me (God knows I need none !) of your natural kindness 
and of the bar there is between us." 
A vacant and contemptuous laugh, was all his answer. 
" But, Mr. Redlaw," said the student, " as a just man, and a good man, 
think how innocent I am, except in name and descent, of participation 
in any wrong inflicted on you, or in any sorrow you have borne." 

" Sorrow ! " said Redlaw, laughing. " Wrong ! What are those to 
me .? " 

" For Heaven's sake," entreated the shrinking student, " do not let 
the mere interchange of a few words with me change you like this, sir ! 
Let me pass again from your knowledge and notice. Let me occupy my 
old reserved and distant place among those whom you instruct. Know 

me only by the name I have assumed, and not by that of Longford " 

" Longford ! " exclaimed the other. 

He clasped his head with both his hands, and for a moment turned 
upon the young man his own intelligent and thoughtful face. But the 
light passed from it, like the sunbeam of an instant, and it clouded as 
before. 

" The name my mother bears, sir," faltered the young man, the 
name she took, when she might, perhaps, have taken one more honoured. 
Mr. Redlaw," hesitating, " I beHeve I know that history. Where my 
information halts, my guesses at what is wanting may supply something 
not remote from the truth. I am the child of a marriage that has not 
proved itself a well-assorted or a happy one. From infancy, I have heard 
you spoken of with honour and respect — ^with something that was 
almost reverence. I have heard of such devotion, of such fortitude and 
tenderness, of such rising up against the obstacles which press men 
down, that my fancy, since I learnt my little lesson from my mother, 
has shed a lustre on your name. At last, a poor student myself, from 
whom could I learn but you .? " 

Redlaw, unmoved, unchanged, and looking at him with a staring frown, 
answered by no word or sign. 

" I cannot say," pursued the other, " I should try in vain to say, how 
much it has impressed me, and affected me, to find the gracious traces 
of the past, in that certain power of winning gratitude and confidence 



THE HAUNTED MAN 273 

which is associated among us students (^-^-^^ ^^^^^Ztm^^^ 

bdescribable' feelings of alection I ha.e, - .^ :trf omTen- 
him ■ with what pain and reluctance I have kept aloof from his en 
™rment, when a word of it would have made me nch ; X" W I 
htve fek it fit that I should hold my course, content to know hm, ai^d 
to be nnkno™. Mr. Redlaw," said the student, faintly, what I would 
i^ve saw, I have said ill, for my strength is strange *» me a^ Xf ,bu 
for anything unworthy in this fraud of mine, forgive me, and for all the 

" Th^Sringlt'own remained on Redlaw's face, and yielded to no other 
expression until the student, with these words, advanced towards him, as 
if to touch his hand, when he drew back and cried to him : 

" Don't come nearer to me ! " ., , , 

The young man stopped, shocked by the eagerness o his r-oil -d by 
the sternness of his repulsion ; and he passed his hand, thoughtfuUy, 

"™Th'';a"t;t" said the Chemist. " It dies Kke the brutes. Who 
talks to m'e of it^s tr;ces in my life ? He raves or lies ! What have I to 
do with your distempered dreams ? If you want money ^''" "' eUe 
came to offer it ; and that is all I came for. There can be nothing e^ 
Tt brings me here," he muttered, holding his head agam, with both his 
hands. " There can be nothing else, and yet— — 

He had tossed his purse upon the table. As he fell nto this d™ 
cogitation with himseK, the student took it ^P' ^""f't ";"^\ri ^^h 

" Take it back, sir," he said proudly, though not angrily. 1 wish 
you could take from me, with it, the remembrance of your words and 

°*^" y'ou do .' " he retorted, with a wild light in his eyes. " You do ? " 

^e'^Chemist went close to him, for the first time and took the purse, 
and turned him by the arm, and looked him m the face ^_ 

" There is sorrow and trouble in sickness, is there not i he demanded, 

with a laugh. j ,< v " 

The wonderine student answered, les. • ■: i_ • i 

"In irunrest,'in its anxiety, in its suspense in ^^ «;"- ^^P^/-^^ 

and mental miseries ? " said the Chemist, with a wild unearthly exulta 

tion " All best forgotten, are they not ? , , . , , . , i,„ 

The student did not answer, but again passed his hand confusedly 

acrosshis forehead. Redlaw still held him by the sleeve, when MiUy s 

voice was heard outside. .,,.-, , -n^if n^nV rrv 

« I can see very well now." she said, " thank you, Dolf. Don t cry. 



274 THE HAUNTED MAN 

dear. Father and mother will be comfortable again, to-morrow, and 
home will be comfortable too. A gentleman with him, is there ! " 

Redlaw released his hold, as he Hstened. 

" I have feared, from the first moment," he murmured to himself, 
" to meet her. There is a steady quahty of goodness in her, that I dread 
to influence. I may be the murderer of what is tenderest and best 
within her bosom." 

She was knocking at the door. 

" Shall I dismiss it as an idle foreboding, or still avoid her ? " he 
muttered, looking uneasily around. 

She was knocking at the door again. 

" Of all the visitors who could come here," he said, in a hoarse alarmed 
voice, turning to his companion, " this is the one I should desire most to 
avoid. Hide me ! " 

The student opened a frail door in the wall, communicating, where 
the garret-roof began to slope towards the floor, with a small inner room. 
Redlaw passed in hastily, and shut it after him. 

The student then resumed his place upon the couch, and called to her 
to enter. 

" Dear Mr. Edmund," said Milly, looking round, " they told me there 
was a gentleman here." 

" There is no one here but I." 

" There has been some one ? " 

" Yes, yes, there has been some one." 

She put her little basket on the table, and went up to the back of the 
couch, as if to take the extended hand — but it was not there. A Httle 
surprised, in her quiet way, she leaned over to look at his face, and gently 
touched him on the brow. 

" Are you quite as well to-night ? Your head is not so cool as in the 
afternoon." 

" Tut ! " said the student, petulantly, " very little ails me." 

A little more surprise, but no reproach, was expressed in her face, as 
she withdrew to the other side of the table, and took a small packet of 
needlework from her basket. But she laid it down again, on second 
thoughts, and going noiselessly about the room, set everything exactly 
in its place, and in the neatest order ; even to the cushions on the couch 
which she touched with so Hght a hand, that he hardly seemed to know 
it, as he lay looking at the fire. When all this was done, and she had 
swept the hearth, she sat down, in her modest little bonnet, to her work, 
and was quietly busy on it directly. 

" It's the new musHn curtain for the window, Mr. Edmund," said 
Milly, stitching away as she talked. " It will look very clean and nice, 
though it costs very little, and will save your eyes, too, from the light. 
My William says the room should not be too light just now, when you 
are recovering so well, or the glare might make you giddy." 

He said nothing ; but there was something so fretful and impatient in 



THE HAUNTED MAN 275 

his change of position, that her quick fingers stopped, and she looked at 
him anxiously. 

" The pillows are not comfortable," she said, laying down her work 
and rising. " I will soon put them right." 

" They are very well," he answered. " Leave them alone, pray. 
You make so much of everything." 

He raised his head to say this, and looked at her so thanklessly, that, 
after he had thrown himself down again, she stood timidly pausing. 
However, she resumed her seat, and her needle, without having directed 
even a murmuring look towards him, and was soon as busy as before. 

" I have been thinking, Mr. Edmund, that you have been often 
thinking of late, when I have been sitting by, how true the saying is, that 
adversity is a good teacher. Health will be more precious to you, after 
this illness, than it has ever been. And years hence, when this time of 
year comes round, and you remember the days when you lay here sick, 
alone, that the knowledge of your illness might not afflict those who are 
dearest to you, your home will be doubly dear and doubly blest. Now, 
isn't that a good, true thing ? " 

She was too intent upon her work, and too earnest in what she said, 
and too composed and quiet altogether, to be on the watch for any look 
he might direct towards her in reply ; so the shaft of his ungrateful 
glance fell harmless, and did not wound her. 

" Ah ! " said Milly, with her pretty head incHning thougthfuUy on 
one side, as she looked down, following her busy fingers with her eyes. 
" Even on me — and I am very diflterent from you, Mr. Edmund, for I 
have no learning, and don't know how to think properly — this view of 
such things has made a great impression, since you have been lying ill. 
When I have seen you so touched by the kindness and attention of the 
poor people down stairs, I have felt that you thought even that experi- 
ence some repayment for the loss of health, and I have read in your face, 
as plain as if it was a book, that but for some trouble and sorrow, we should 
never know half the good there is about us." 

His getting up from the couch, interrupted her, or she was going on 
to say more. 

" We needn't magnify the merit, Mrs. William," he rejoined shght- 
ingly. " The people down stairs will be paid in good time I dare say, 
for any little extra service they may have rendered me ; and perhaps they 
anticipate no less. I am much obliged to you, too." 

Her fingers stopped, and she looked at him. 

" I can't be made to feel the more obliged by your exaggerating the 
case," he said. " I am sensible that you have been interested in me, and 
I say I am much obliged to you. What more would you have .? " 

Her work fell on her lap, as she still looked at him walking to and fro 
with an intolerant air, and stopping now and then. 

" I say again, I am much obliged to you. Why weaken my sense of 
what is your due in obligation, by preferring enormous claims upon me ? 



276 THE HAUNTED MAN 

Trouble, sorrow, affliction, adversity ! One might suppose I had been 
dying a score of deaths here ! " 

" Do you beheve, Mr. Edmund," she asked, rising and going nearer to 
him, " that I spoke of the poor people of the house, with any reference 
to myself ? To me ? " laying her hand upon her bosom with a simple 
and innocent smile of astonishment. 

" Oh ! I think nothing about it, my good creature," he returned. " I 
have had an indisposition, which your solicitude — observe ! I say 
solicitude — makes a great deal more of, than it merits ; and it's over, 
and we can't perpetuate it." 

He coldly took a book, and sat down at the table. 

She watched him for a little while, until her smile was quite gone, and 
then, returning to where her basket was, said gently : 

" Mr. Edmund, would you rather be alone ? " 

" There is no reason why I should detain you here," he replied. 

" Except " said Milly, hesitating, and showing her work. 

" Oh ! the curtain," he answered, with a superciHous laugh. " That's 
not worth staying for." 

She made up the little packet again, and put it in her basket. Then, 
standing before him with such an air of patient entreaty that he could 
not choose but look at her, she said : 

" If you should want me, I will come back willingly. When you did 
want me, I was quite happy to come ; there was no merit in it. I think 
you must be afraid, that, now you are getting well, I may be troublesome 
to you ; but I should not have been, indeed. I should have come no 
longer than your weakness and confinement lasted. You owe me 
nothing ; but it is right that you should deal as justly by me as if I was 
a lady — even the very lady that you love ; and if you suspect me of 
meanly making much of the little I have tried to do to comfort your sick 
room, you do yourself more wrong than ever you can do me. That is 
why I am sorry. That is why I am very sorry." 

If she had been as passionate as she was quiet, as indignant as she was 
calm, as angry in her look as she was gentle, as loud of tone as she was low 
and clear, she might have left no sense of her departure in the room, 
compared with that which fell upon the lonely student when she went 
away. 

He was gazing drearily upon the place where she had been, when 
Redlaw came out of his concealment, and came to the door. 

" When sickness lays its hand on you again," he said, looking fiercely 
back at him, " — may it be soon ! — Die here ! Rot here ! " 

" What have you done ? " returned the other, catching at his cloak. 
" What change have you wrought in me ? What curse have you brought 
upon me ? Give me back myself ! " 

" Give me back myself ! " exclaimed Redlaw like a madman. " I am 
infected ! I am infectious ! I am charged with poison for my own 
mind, and the minds of all mankind. Where I felt interest, compassion. 



THE HAUNTED MAN 277 

sympathy, I am turning into stone. Selfishness and ingratitude spring 
up in my blighting footsteps. I am only so much less base than the 
wretches whom I make so, that in the moment of their transformation I 
can hate them." 

As he spoke — the young man still holding to his cloak — he cast him off 
and struck him : then, wildly hurried out into the night air where the 
wind was blowing, the snow faUing, the cloud-drift sweeping on, the 
moon dimly shining ; and where, blowing in the wind, f aUing with the 
snow, drifting with the clouds, shining in the moonlight, and heavily 
looming in the darkness, were the Phantom's words, " The gift that I 
have given, you shall give again, go where you will ! " 

Whither he went, he neither knew nor cared, so that he avoided 
company. The change he felt within him made the busy streets a 
desert, and himself a desert, and the multitude around him, in their 
manifold endurances and ways of life, a mighty waste of sand, which 
the winds tossed into unintelligible heaps and made a ruinous con- 
fusion of. Those traces in his breast which the Phantom had told 
him would " die out soon," were not, as yet, so far upon their way to 
death, but that he understood enough of what he was, and what he made 
of others, to desire to be alone. 

This put it in his mind — he suddenly bethought himself, as he was 
going along, of the boy who had rushed into his room. And then he 
recollected, that of those with whom he had communicated since the 
Phantom's disappearance, that boy alone had shown no sign of being 
changed. 

Monstrous and odious as the wild thing was to him, he determined to 
seek it out, and prove if this were really so ; and also to seek it with 
another intention, which came into his thoughts at the same time. 

So, resolving with some difficulty where he was, he directed his steps 
back to the old college, and to that part of it where the general porch was, 
and where, alone, the pavement was worn by the tread of the students' 
feet. 

The keeper's house stood just within the iron gates, forming a part of 
the chief quadrangle. There was a little cloister outside, and from that 
sheltered place he knew he could look in at the window of their ordinary 
room, and see who was within. The iron gates were shut, but his hand 
was familiar with the fastening, and drawing it back by thrusting in 
his wrist between the bars, he passed through softly, shut it again, 
and crept up to the window, crumbling the thin crust of snow with his 
feet. 

The fire, to which he had directed the boy last night, shining brightly 
through the glass, made an illuminated place upon the ground. In- 
stinctively avoiding this, and going round it, he looked in at the window. 
At first, he thought that there was no one there, and that the blaze was 
reddening only the old beams in the ceiHng and the dark walls ; but 
peering in more narrowly he saw the object of his search coiled asleep 



278 THE HAUNTED MAN 

before it on the floor. He passed quickly to the door, opened it, and 
went in. 

The creature lay in such a fiery heat that, as the Chemist stooped to 
rouse him, it scorched his head. So soon as he was touched, the boy, not 
half awake, clutching his rags together with the instinct of flight upon 
him, half rolled and half ran into a distant corner of the room, where, 
heaped upon the ground, he struck his foot out to defend himself. 

" Get up ! " said the Chemist. " You have not forgotten me .? " 

" You let me alone ! " returned the boy. " This is the woman's 
house — not yours." 

The Chemist's steady eye controlled him somewhat, or inspired him 
with enough submission to be raised upon his feet, and looked at. 

" Who washed them, and put those bandages where they were bruised 
and cracked ? " asked the Chemist, pointing to their altered state. 

" The woman did." 

" And is it she who has made you cleaner in the face, too ^ " 

" Yes, the woman." 

Redlaw asked these questions to attract his eyes towards himself, and 
with the same intent now held him by the chin, and threw his wild hair 
back, though he loathed to touch him. The boy watched his eyes 
keenly, as if he thought it needful to his own defence, not knowing what 
he might do next ; and Redlaw could see well that no change came over 
him. 

" Where are they ? " he inquired. 

" The woman's out." 

" I know she is. Where is the old man with the white hair, and his 
son .? " 

" The woman's husband, d'ye mean f " inquired the boy. 

" Ay. Where are those two ? " 

" Out. Something's the matter, somewhere. They were fetched out 
in a hurry, and told mc to stop here." 

" Come with me," said the Chemist, " and I'll give you money." 

" Come where ? and how much will you give ? " 

" I'll give you more shillings than you ever saw, and bring you back 
soon. Do you know your way to where you came from .? " 

" You let me go," returned the boy, suddenly twisting out of his grasp. 
" I'm not a going to take you there. Let me be, or I'll heave some fire 
at you ! " 

He was down before it, and ready, with his savage little hand, to pluck 
the burning coals out. 

What the Chemist had felt, in observing the effect of his charmed 
influence stealing over those with whom he came in contact, was not 
nearly equal to the cold vague terror with which he saw this baby- 
monster put it at defiance. It chilled his blood to look on the immovable 
impenetrable thing, in the likeness of a child, with its sharp malignant 
face turned up to his, and its almost infant hand, ready at tlie bars. 



THE HAUNTED MAN 279 

" Listen, boy ! " he said. " You shall take me where you please, so 
that you take me where the people are very miserable or very wicked. I 
want to do them good, and not to harm them. You shall have money, 
as I have told you, and I will bring you back. Get up ! Come quickly ! " 
He made a hasty step towards the door, afraid of her returning. 

" Will you let me walk by myself, and never hold me, nor yet touch 
me ? " said the boy, slowly withdrawing the hand with which he 
threatened, and beginning to get up. 
" I will ! " 

" And let me go before, behind, or anyways I Hke .? " 
" I wiU ! » 

" Give me some money first then, and I'll go." 

The Chemist laid a few shiUings, one by one, in his extended hand. 
To count them was beyond the boy's knowledge, but he said " one," 
every time, and avariciously looked at each as it was given, and at the 
donor. He had nowhere to put them, out of his hand, but in his mouth ; 
and he put them there. 

Redlaw then wrote with his pencil on a leaf of his pocket-book, that 
the boy was with him ; and laying it on the table, signed to him to 
follow. Keeping his rags together, as usual, the boy complied, and went 
out with his bare head and his naked feet into the winter night. 

Preferring not to depart by the iron gate by which he had entered, 
where they were in danger of meeting her whom he so anxiously avoided, 
the Chemist led the way, through some of those passages among whicJi 
the boy had lost himself, and by that portion of the building where he 
hved, to a small door of which he had the key. When they got into the 
street, he stopped to ask his guide — ^who instantly retreated from him — 
if he knew where they were. 

The savage thing looked here and there, and at length, nodding his 
head, pointed in the direction he designed to take. Redlaw going on at 
once, he followed, something less suspiciously ; shifting his money from 
his mouth into his hand, and back again into his mouth, and stealthily 
rubbing it bright upon his shreds of dress, as he went along. 

Three times, in their progress, they were side by side. Three times 
they stopped, being side by side. Three times the Chemist glanced 
down at his face, and shuddered as it forced upon him one reflection. 

The first occasion was when they were crossing an old church-yard, 
iand Redlaw stopped among the graves, utterly at a loss how to connect 
them with any tender, softening, or consolatory thought. 

The second was, when the breaking forth of the moon induced him to 
•look up at the Heavens, where he saw her in her glory, surrounded by a 
'lost of stars he still knew by the names and histories which human 
■Jcience has appended to them ; but where he saw nothing else he had 
oeen wont to see, felt nothing he had been wont to feel, in looking up 
there, on a bright night. 
The third was when he stopped to listen to a plaintive strain of music, 



28o THE HAUNTED MAN 

but could only hear a tune, made manifest to him by the dry mechanism 
of the instruments and his own ears, with no address to any mystery 
within him, without a whisper in it of the past, or of the future, powerless 
upon him as the sound of last year's running water, or the rushing of 
last year's wind. 

At each of these three times, he saw with horror that, in spite of the 
vast intellectual distance between them, and their being unHke each other 
in all physical respects, the expression on the boy's face was the expression 
on his own. 

They journeyed on for some time — now through such crowded places, 
that he often looked over his shoulder thinking he had lost his guide, but 
generally finding him within his shadow on his other side ; now byways 
so quiet, that he could have counted his short, quick, naked footsteps 
coming on behind— until they arrived at a ruinous collection of houses, 
and the boy touched him and stopped. 

" In there ! " he said, pointing out one house where there were 
scattered lights in the windows, and a dim lantern in the doorway, with 
" Lodgings for Travellers " painted on it. 

Redlaw looked about him ; from the houses, to the waste piece of 
ground on which the houses stood, or rather did not altogether tumble 
down, unfenced, undrained, unlighted, and bordered by a sluggish ditch ; 
from that, to the sloping Une of arches, part of some neighbouring 
viaduct or bridge with which it was surrounded, and which lessened 
gradually, towards them, until the last but one was a mere kennel for a 
dog, the last a plundered Httle heap of bricks ; from that, to the child, 
close to him, cowering and trembUng with the cold, and Umping on one 
Httle foot, while he coiled the other round his leg to warm it, yet staring 
at all these things with that frightful Hkeness of expression so apparent 
in his face, that Redlaw started from him. 

" In there ! " said the boy, pointing out the house again. " I'll wait." 

" Will they let me in ? " asked Redlaw. 

" Say you're a doctor," he answered with a nod. " There's plenty ill 

here." ^. ., 

Looking back on his way to the house-door, Redlaw saw him trail 
himself upon the dust and crawl within the shelter of the smallest arch, 
as if he were a rat. He had no pity for the thing, but he was afraid of it ; 
and when it looked out of its den at him, he hurried to the house as a 

retreat. • r i rr 

" Sorrow, wrong, and trouble," said the Chemist, with a painful ettort 
at some more distinct remembrance, " at least haunt this place, darkly. 
He can do no harm, who brings forgetfulness of such things here ! " 
With these words, he pushed the yielding door, and went in. 
There was a woman sitting on the stairs, either asleep or forlorn, whose 
head was bent down on her hands and knees. As it was not easy to pass 
without treading on her, and as she was perfectly regardless of his near 
approach, he stopped, and touched her on the shoulder. Looking up, 



THE HAUNTED MAN 281 

she showed him quite a young face, but one whose bloom and promise 
were all swept away, as if the haggard winter should unnaturally kill the 
spring. 

With little or no show of concern on his account, she moved nearer to 
the wall to leave him a wider passage. 

" What are you ? " said Redlaw, pausing, with his hand upon the 
broken stair-rail. 

" What do you think I am ? " she answered, showing him her face 
again. 

He looked upon the ruined Temple of God, so lately made, so soon 
disfigured ; and something, which was not compassion — for the springs 
in which a true compassion for such miseries has its rise, were dried up in 
his breast — but which was nearer to it, for the moment, than any feeling 
that had lately struggled into the darkening, but not yet wholly darkened, 
night of his mind — mingled a touch of softness with his next words. 

" I am come here to give rehef, if I can," he said. " Are you thinking 
of any wrong ? " 

She frowned at him, and then laughed ; and then her laugh prolonged 
itself into a shivering sigh, as she dropped her head again, and hid her 
fingers in her hair. 

" Are you thinking of a wrong ? " he asked once more. 

" I am thinking of my life," she said, with a momentary look at him. 

He had a perception that she was one of many, and that he saw the 
type of thousands, when he saw her, drooping at his feet. 

" What are your parents ? " he demanded. 

" I had a good home once. My father was a gardener, far away, in 
the country." 

" Is he dead ? " 

" He's dead to me. All such things are dead to me. You a gentle- 
man, and not know that ! " She raised her eyes again, and laughed at 
him. 

" Girl ! " said Redlaw, sternly, " before this death, of all such things, 
was brought about, was there no wrong done to you .? In spite of all 
that you can do, does no remembrance of wrong cleave to you ? Are 
there not times upon times when it is misery to you ? " 

So httle of what was womanly was left in her appearance, that now, 
when she burst into tears, he stood amazed. But he was more amazed, 
and much disquieted, to note that in her awakened recollection of this 
wrong, the first trace of her old humanity and frozen tenderness appeared 
to show itself. 

He drew a little off, and in doing so, observed that her arms were black, 
her face cut, and her bosom bruised. 

" What brutal hand has hurt jou so .? " he asked. 

" My own. I did it myself ! " she answered quickly. 

" It is impossible." 

" I'll swear I did ! He didn't touch me. I did it to myself in a 



282 THE HAUNTED MAN 

passion, and threw myself down here. He wasn't near me. He never 
laid a hand upon me ! " 

In the white determination of her face, confronting him with this 
untruth, he saw enough of the last perversion and distortion of good 
surviving in that miserable breast, to be stricken with remorse that he 
had ever come near her. 

" Sorrow, wrong, and trouble ! " he muttered, turning his fearful gaze 
away. " All that connects her with the state from which she has fallen, 
has those roots ! In the name of God, let me go by ! " 

Afraid to look at her again, afraid to touch her, afraid to think of 
having sundered the last thread by which she held upon the mercy of 
Heaven, he gathered his cloak about him, and glided swiftly up the stairs. 

Opposite to him, on the landing, was a door, which stood partly open, 
and which, as he ascended, a man with a candle in his hand, came forward 
from within to shut. But this man, on seeing him, drew back, with 
much emotion in his manner, and, as if by a sudden impulse, mentioned 
his name aloud. 

In the surprise of such a recognition there, he stopped, endeavouring 
to recollect the wan and startled face. He had no time to consider it, 
for, to his yet greater amazement, old Philip came out of the room, and 
took him by the hand. 

" Mr. Redlaw," said the old man, " this is like you, this is like you, sir ! 
you have heard of it, and have come after us to render any help you can. 
Ah, too late, too late ! " 

Redlaw, with a bewildered look, submitted to be led into the room. A 
man lay there, on a truckle-bed, and William Swidger stood at the 
bedside. 

" Too late ! " murmured the old man, looking wistfully into the 
Chemist's face ; and the tears stole down his cheeks. 

" That's what I say, father," interposed his son in a low voice. " That's 
where it is, exactly. To keep as quiet as ever we can while he's a dozing, 
is the only thing to do. You're right, father ! " 

Redlaw paused at the bedside, and looked down on the figure that was 
stretched upon the mattress. It was that of a man, who should have 
been in the vigour of his life, but on whom it was not likely the sun 
would ever shine again. The vices of his forty or fifty years' career had 
so branded him, that, in comparison with their eflPects upon his face, the 
heavy hand of Time upon the old man's face who watched him had been 
merciful and beautifying. 

" Who is this ? " asked the Chemist, looking round. 

" My son George, Mr. Redlaw," said the old man, wringing his hands, 
" My eldest son, George, who was more his mother's pride than all the 
rest ! " 

Redlaw's eyes wandered from the old man's grey head, as he laidl; 
down upon the bed, to the person who had recognised him, and who 
had kept aloof, in the remotest corner of the room. He seemed to be 



THE HAUNTED MAN 283 

about his own age ; and although he knew no such hopeless decay and 
broken man as he appeared to be, there was something in the turn of his 
figure, as he stood with his back towards him, and now went out at the 
door, that made him pass his hand uneasily across his brow. 

" William," he said in a gloomy whisper, " who is that man ? " 

" Why you see, sir," returned Mr. William, " that's what I say, 
myself. Why should a man ever go and gamble, and the like of that, and 
let himself down inch by inch till he can't let himself down any lower ! " 

" Has he done so ? " asked Redlaw, glancing after him with the same 
uneasy action as before. 

" Just exactly that, sir," returned William Swidger, " as I'm told. He 
knows a little about medicine, sir, it seems ; and having been wayfaring 
towards London with my unhappy brother that you see here," Mr. 
William passed his coat-sleeve across his eyes, " and being lodging up 
stairs for the night — ^what I say, you see, is that strange companions come 
together here sometimes — he looked in to attend upon him, and came 
for us at his request. What a mournful spectacle, sir ! But that's 
where it is. It's enough to kill my father ! " 

Redlaw looked up, at these words, and, recalhng where he was and 
with whom, and the spell he carried with him — ^which his surprise had 
obscured — retired a little, hurriedly, debating with himself whether to 
shun the house that moment, or remain. 

Yielding to a sullen doggedness, which it seemed to be a part of 
his condition to struggle with, he argued for remaining. 

" Was it only yesterday," he said, " when I observed the memory of 
this old man to be a tissue of sorrow and trouble, and shall I be afraid 
to-night, to shake it ? Are such remembrances as I can drive away, so 
precious to this dying man that I need fear for him P No ! I'll stay 
here." 

But he stayed, in fear and trembling none the less for these words ; 
and, shrouded in his black cloak with his face turned from them, stood 
away from the bedside, Hstening to what they said, as if he felt himself a 
demon in the place, 

" Father ! " murmured the sick man, rallying a little from his stupor. 

" My boy ! My son George ! " said old PhiHp. 

" You spoke, just now, of my being mother's favourite, long ago. It's 
a dreadful thing to think now, of long ago ! " 

" No, no, no," returned the old man. " Think of it. Don't say it's 
dreadful. It's not dreadful to me, my son." 

" It cuts you to the heart, father." For the old man's tears were 
falhng on him. 

" Yes, yes," said Philip, '' so it does ; but it does me good. It's a 
heavy sorrow to think of that time, but it does me good, George. Oh, 
think of it too, think of it too, and your heart will be softened more and 
more ! Where's my son William ? William, my boy, your mother 
loved him dearly to the last, and with her latest breath said, ' Tell him I 



284 THE HAUNTED MAN 

forgave him, blessed him, and prayed for him.' Those were her words 
to me. I have never forgotten them, and I'm eighty-seven ! " 

" Father ! " said the man upon the bed, " I am dying, I know. I am 
so far gone, that I can hardly speak, even of what my mind most runs on. 
Is there any hope for me beyond this bed .? " 

" There is hope," returned the old man, " for all who are softened and 
penitent. There is hope for all such. Oh ! " he exclaimed, clasping 
his hands and looking up, " I was thankful, only yesterday, that I could 
remember this unhappy son when he was an innocent child. But what 
a comfort it is, now, to think that even God himself has that remembrance 
of him ! " 

Redlaw spread his hands upon his face, and shrank, like a murderer. 

" Ah ! " feebly moaned the man upon the bed. " The waste since 
then, the waste of life since then ! " 

" But he was a child once," said the old man. " He played with 
children. Before he lay down on his bed at night, and fell into his 
guiltless rest, he said his prayers at his poor mother's knee. I have seen 
him do it, many a time ; and seen her lay his head upon her breast, and 
kiss him. Sorrowful as it was to her and me, to think of this, when he 
went so wrong, and when our hopes and plans for him were all broken, 
this gave him still a hold upon us, that nothing else could have given. 
Oh, Father, so much better than the fathers upon earth I Oh, Father, 
so much more afflicted by the errors of Thy children ! take this wanderer 
back ! Not as he is, but as he was then, let him cry to Thee, as he has so 
often seemed to cry to us ! " 

As the old man lifted up his trembling hands, the son, for whom he 
made the supplication, laid his sinking head against him for support and 
comfort, as if he were indeed the child of whom he spoke. 

When did man ever tremble, as Redlaw trembled, in the silence that 
ensued ! He knew it must come upon them, knew that it was coming 
fast. 

" My time is very short, my breath is shorter," said the sick man, 
supporting himself on one arm, and with the other groping in the air, 
" and I remember there is something on my mind concerning the man 
who was here just now. Father and William — wait ! — is there really 
anything in black, out there f " 

" Yes, yes, it is real," said his aged father. 

" Is it a man ? " 

*' What I say myself, George," interposed his brother, bending kindly 
over him. " It's Mr. Redlaw." 

" I thought I had dreamed of him. Ask him to come here." 

The Chemist, whiter than the dying man, appeared before him. 
Obedient to the motion of his hand, he sat upon the bed. 

" It has been so ripped up, to-night, sir," said the sick man, laying his 
hand upon his heart, with a look in which the mute, imploring agony of 
his condition was concentrated, " by the sight of my poor old father, and 



THE HAUNTED MAN 285 

tlie thought of all the trouble I have been the cause of, and all the wrong 

and sorrow lying at my door, that " 

Was it the extremity to which he had come, or was it the dawning of 
another change, that made him stop ? 

" — that what I can do right with my mind running on so much, 
so fast, I'll try to do. There was another man here. Did you see 
him ? " 

Redlaw could not reply by any word ; for when he saw that fatal sign 
he knew so well now, of the wandering hand upon the forehead, his voice 
died at his lips. But he made some indication of assent. 

" He is penniless, hungry, and destitute. He is completely beaten 
down, and has no resource at all. Look after him ! Lose no time ! I 
know he has it in his mind to kill himself." 

It was working. It was on his face. His face was changing, hardening, 
deepening in all its shades, and losing all its sorrow. 

" Don't you remember ? Don't you know him ? " he pursued. 
He shut his face out for a moment, with the hand that again wandered 
over his forehead, and then it lowered on Redlaw, reckless, ruffianly, and 
callous. 

" Why, d n you ! " he said, scowUng round, " what have you been 

doing to me here ! I have hved bold, and I mean to die bold. To the 
Devil with you ! " 

And so lay down upon his bed, and put his arms up, over his head and 
ears, as resolute from that time to keep out all access, and to die in his 
indifference. 

If Redlaw had been struck by lightning, it could not have struck him 
from the bedside vdth a more tremendous shock. But the old man, who 
had left the bed while his son was speaking to him, now returning, 
avoided it quickly hkewise, and with abhorrence. 

" Where's ray boy Wilham ? " said the old man hurriedly. " William, 
come away from here. We'll go home." 

" Home, father ! " returned WiUiam. " Are you going to leave your 
own son ? " 

" Where's my own son t " replied the old man. 
" Where ? why, there ! " 

" That's no son of mine," said Philip, trembHng with resentment. 
*' No such wretch as that, has any claim on me. My children are 
pleasant to look at, and they wait upon me, and get my meat and drink 
ready, and are useful to me. I've a right to it ! I'm eighty-seven ! " 

"You're old enough to be no older," muttered William, looking at 
him grudgingly, with his hands in his pockets. " I don't know what 
good you are, myself. We could have a deal more pleasure without 
you." 

" My son, Mr. Redlaw ! " said the old man. " My son, too ! The 
boy talking to me of my son ! Why, what has he ever done to give me 
any pleasure, I should like to know ? " 



286 THE HAUNTED MAN 

" I don't know what you have ever done to give me any pleasure," said 
WilHam, sulkily. 

" Let me think," said the old man. " For how many Christmas times 
running, have I sat in my warm place, and never had to come out in the 
cold night air ; and have made good cheer, without being disturbed by 
any such uncomfortable, wretched sight as him there ? Is it twenty, 
WilHam ? " 

" Nigher forty, it seems," he muttered. " Why, when I look at my 
father, sir, and come to think of it," addressing Redlaw, vnth an im- 
patience and irritation that were quite new, " I'm whipped if I can see 
anything in him but a calendar of ever so many years of eating and 
drinking, and making himself comfortable, over and over again." 

" I — I'm eighty-seven," said the old man, rambhng on, childishly and 
weakly, " and I don't know as I ever was much put out by anything. 
I'm not going to begin now, because of what he calls my son. He's not 
my son. I've had a power of pleasant times. I recollect once — no I 
don't — no, it's broken off. It was something about a game of cricket 
and a friend of mine, but it's somehow broken off. I wonder who he 
was — I suppose I hked him } And I wonder what became of him — I 
suppose he died ? But I don't know. And I don't care, neither ; I 
don't care a bit." 

In his drowsy chuckling, and the shaking of his head, he put his hands 
into his waistcoat pockets. In one of them he found a bit of holly (left 
there, probably, last night), which he now took out, and looked at. 

" Berries, eh ? " said the old man. " Ah ! It's a pity they're not 
good to eat. I recollect, when I was a Httle chap about as high as that, 
and out a walking with — let me see — ^who was I out a walking with ? — 
no, I don't remember how that was. I don't remember as I ever walked 
with any one particular, or cared for any one, or any one for me. Berries, 
eh ? There's good cheer when there's berries. Well ; I ought to have 
my share of it, and to be waited on, and kept warm and comfortable ; 
for I'm eighty-seven, and a poor old man. I'm eigh-ty-seven. Eigh-ty- 
seven ! " 

The drivelhng, pitiable manner in which, as he repeated this, he 
nibbled at the leaves, and spat the morsels out ; the cold, uninterested 
eye with which his youngest son (so changed) regarded him ; the 
determined apathy with which his eldest son lay hardened in his sin ; 
impressed themselves no more on Redlaw's observation, — for he broke 
his way from the spot to which his feet seemed to have been fixed, and 
ran out of the house. 

His guide came crawHng forth from his place of refuge, and was ready 
for him before he reached the arches. 
" Back to the woman's .? " he inquired. 

" Back, quickly ! " answered Redlaw. " Stop nowhere on the way ! " 

For a short distance the boy went on before ; but their return was 

more like a flight than a walk, and it was as much as his bare feet could do, 



THE HAUNTED MAN 287 

to keep pace with the Chemist's rapid strides. Shrinking from all who 
passed, shrouded in his cloak, and keeping it drawn closely about him, 
as though there were mortal contagion in any fluttering touch of his 
garments, he made no pause until they reached the door by which they 
had come out. He unlocked it with his key, went in, accompanied by 
the boy, and hastened through the dark passages to his own chamber. 

The boy watched him as he made the door fast, and withdrew behind 
the table when he looked round. 

" Come ! " he said. " Don't you touch me ! You've not brought 
me here to take my money away." 

Redlaw threw some more upon the ground. He flung his body on it 
immediately, as if to hide it from him, lest the sight of it should tempt 
him to reclaim it ; and not until he saw him seated by his lamp, with his 
face hidden in his hands, began furtively to pick it up. When he had 
done so, he crept near the fire, and sitting down in a great chair before it, 
took from his breast some broken scraps of food, and fell to munching, 
and to staring at the blaze, and now and then to glancing at his shillings, 
which he kept clenched up in a bunch, in one hand. 

" And this," said Redlaw, gazing on him with increased repugnance 
and fear, " is the only one companion I have left on earth ! " 

How long it was before he was aroused from his contemplation of this 
creature, whom he dreaded so — whether half-an-hour, or half the night — 
he knew not. But the stillness of the room was broken by the boy 
(whom he had seen listening) starting up, and running towards the door. 

" Here's the woman coming ! " he exclaimed. 

The Chemist stopped him on his way, at the moment when she 
knocked. 

" Let me go to her, will you .? " said the boy. 

" Not now," returned the Chemist. " Stay here. Nobody must 
pass in or out of the room now. — Who's that .'' " 

" It's I, sir," cried Milly. " Pray, sir, let me in ! " 

" No ! not for the world ! " he said. 

" Mr. Redlaw, Mr. Redlaw, pray, sir, let me in." 

" What is the matter ? " he said, holding the boy. 

" The miserable man you saw, is worse, and nothing I can say will wake 
him from his terrible infatuation. William's father has turned childish 
in a moment. William himself is changed. The shock has been too 
sudden for him ; I cannot understand him ; he is not like himself. Oh, 
Mr. Redlaw, pray advise me, help me ! " 

" No ! No ! No ! " he answered. 

" Mr. Redlaw ! Dear sir ! George has been muttering, in his doze, 
about the man you saw there, who, he fears, will kill himself." 

" Better he should do it, than come near me ! " 

" He says, in his wandering, that you know him ; that he was your 
friend once, long ago ; that he is the ruined father of a student here — my 
mind misgives me, of the young gentleman who has been ill. What is to 



288 THE HAUNTED MAN 

be done ? How is he to be followed ? How is he to be saved ? Mr. 
Redlaw, pray, oh, pray advise me ! Help me ! " 

All this time he held the hoy, who was haH-mad to pass him, and let 
her in. 

" Phantoms ! Punishers of impious thoughts ! " cried Redlaw, gazing 
round in anguish, " Look upon me ! From the darkness of my mind, 
let the ghmmering of contrition that I know is there, shine up, and show 
my misery ! In the material world, as I have long taught, nothing can 
be spared ; no step or atom in the wondrous structure could be lost, 
without a blank being made in the great universe. I know, now, that it 
is the same with good and evil, happiness and sorrow, in the memories of 
men. Pity me ! ReHeve me ! " 

There was no response, but her " Help me, help me, let me in ! " and 
the boy's struggHng to get to her. 

" Shadow of myself ! Spirit of my darker hours ! " cried Redlaw, in 
distraction, " Come back, and haunt me day and night, but take this gift 
away ! Or, if it must still rest v/ith me, deprive me of the dreadful power 
of giving it to others. Undo what I have done. Leave me benighted, 
but restore the day to those whom I have cursed. As I have spared this 
woman from the first, and as I never will go forth again, but will die here 
with no hand to tend me, save this creature's who is proof against me, — 
hear me ! " 

The only reply still was, the boy struggling to get to her, while he held 
him back ; and the cry, increasing in its energy, " Help ! let me in. He 
was your friend once, how shall he be followed, how shall he be saved ? 
They are all changed, there is no one else to help me, pray, pray, let me 
in!" 



CHAPTER HI : The Gift Reversed 

Night was still heavy in the sky. On open plains, from hill-tops, and 
from the decks of soHtary ships at sea, a distant low-lying line, that 
promised by-and-bye to change to hght, was visible in the dim horizon ; 
but its promise was remote and doubtful, and the moon was striving 
with the night-clouds busily. 

The shadows upon Redlaw's mind succeeded thick and fast to one 
another, and obscured its Hght as the night-clouds hovered between the 
moon and earth, and kept the latter veiled in darkness. Fitful and 
uncertain as the shadows which the night-clouds cast, were their con- 
cealments from him, and imperfect revelations to him ; and, like the 
night-clouds still, if the clear light broke forth for a moment, it was only 
that they might sweep over it, and make the darkness deeper than before. 

Without, there was a profound and solemn hush upon the ancient pile 
of building, and its buttresses and angles made dark shapes of mystery 
upon the ground, which now seemed to retire into the smooth white 
snow and now seemed to come out of it, as the moon's path was more or 



THE HAUNTED MAN 289 

less beset. Within, the Chemist's room was indistinct and murky, by 
the Hght of the expiring lamp ; a ghostly silence had succeeded to the 
knocking and the voice outside ; nothing was audible but, now and then, 
a low sound among the whitened ashes of the fire, as of its yielding up its 
last breath. Before it on the ground the boy lay fast asleep. In his 
chair, the Chemist sat, as he had sat there since the calhng at his door had 
ceased — like a man turned to stone. 

At such a time, the Christmas music he had heard before, began to 
play. He Hstened to it at first, as he had Hstened in the churchyard ; 
but presently — it playing still, and being borne towards him on the night 
air, in a low, sweet, melancholy strain — he rose, and stood stretching his 
hands about him, as if there were some friend approaching within his 
reach, on whom his desolate touch might rest, yet do no harm. As he 
did this, his face became less fixed and wondering ; a gentle trembhng 
came upon him ; and at last his eyes filled with tears, and he put his 
hands before them, and bowed down his head. 

His memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble, had not come back to him ; 
he knew that it was not restored ; he had no passing belief or hope that 
it was. But some dumb stir within him made him capable, again, of 
being moved by what was hidden, afar oflp, in the music. If it were only 
that it told him sorrowfully the value of what he had lost, he thanked 
Heaven for it with a fervent gratitude. 

As the last chord died upon his ear, he raised his head to listen to its 
lingering vibration. Beyond the boy, so that his sleeping figure lay at 
his feet, the Phantom stood immovable and silent, with its eyes upon 
him. 

Ghastly it was, as it had ever been, but not so cruel and relentless in its 
aspect — or he thought or hoped so, as he looked upon it, trembling. It 
was not alone, but in its shadowy hand it held another hand. 

And whose was that ? Was the form that stood beside it indeed 
Milly's, or but her shade and picture ? The quiet head was bent a little, 
as her manner was, and her eyes were looking down, as if in pity, on the 
sleeping child. A radiant Hght fell on her face, but did not touch the 
Phantom ; for, though close beside her, it was dark and colourless as ever. 

" Spectre ! " said the Chemist, newly troubled as he looked, " I have 
not been stubborn or presumptuous in respect of her. Oh, do not 
bring her here. Spare me that ! " 

" This is but a shadow," said the Phantom ; " when the morning 
shines seek out the reality whose image I present before you." 

" Is it my inexorable doom to do so .? " cried the Chemist. 

" It is," replied the Phantom. 

" To destroy her peace, her goodness ; to make her what I am myself, 
and what I have made of others ! " 

" I have said ' seek her out,' " returned the Phantom. " I have said 
no more." 

'• Oh, tell me," exclaimed Redlaw, catching at the hope which he 

CC. K 



290 THE HAUNTED MAN 

fancied might lie hidden in the words. " Can I undo what I have 
done f " 

" No," returned the Phantom. 

" I do not ask for restoration to myself," said Redlaw. " What I 
abandoned, I abandoned of my own free will, and have justly lost. But 
for those to whom I have transferred the fatal gift ; who never sought it ; 
who unknowingly received a curse of which they had no warning, and 
which they had no power to shun ; can I do nothing ? " 

" Nothing," said the Phantom. 

" If I cannot can any one ? " 

The Phantom, standing Hke a statue, kept his gaze upon him for a 
while ; then turned its head suddenly, and looked upon the shadow at 
its side. 

" Ah ! Can she f " cried Redlaw, still looking upon the shade. 

The Phantom released the hand it had retained till now, and softly 
raised its own with a gesture of dismissal. Upon that, her shadow, still 
preserving the same attitude, began to move or melt away. 

" Stay," cried Redlaw with an earnestness to which he could not give 
enough expression. " For a moment ! As an act of mercy ! I know 
that some change fell upon me, when those sounds were in the air just 
now. Tell me, have I lost the power of harming her ? May I go near 
her without dread ? Oh, let her give me any sign of hope ! " 

The Phantom looked upon the shade as he did — not at him — and gave 
no answer. 

" At least, say this — has she, henceforth, the consciousness of any 
power to set right what I have done f " 

" She has not," the Phantom answered. 

" Has she the power bestowed on her without the consciousness ^ " 

The Phantom answered : " Seek her out." And her shadow slowly 
vanished. 

They were face to face again, and looking on each other, as intently 
and awfully as at the time of the bestowal of the gift, across the boy who 
still lay on the ground between them, at the Phantom's feet. 

" Terrible instructor," said the Chemist, sinking on his knee before it, 
in an attitude of supplication, " by whom I was renounced, but by 
whom I am revisited (in which, and in whose milder aspect, I would fain 
believe I have a gleam of hope), I will obey without inquiry, praying that 
the cry I have sent up in the anguish of my soul has been, or will be, 
heard, in behalf of those whom I have injured beyond human reparation. 
But there is one thing " 

" You speak to me of what is lying here," the Phantom interposed, 
and pointed with its finger to the boy. 

'- " I do," returned the Chemist. " You know what I would ask. Why 
has this child alone been proof against my influence, and why, why, have 
I detected in its thoughts a terrible companionship with mine ? " 

" This," said the Phantom, pointing to the boy, " is the last, com- 



THE HAUNTED MAN 291 

pletest illustration of a human creature, utterly bereft of such remem- 
brances as you have yielded up. No softening memory of sorrow, 
wrong, or trouble enters here, because this wretched mortal from his 
birth has been abandoned to a worse condition than the beasts, and has, 
within his knowledge, no one contrast, no humanising touch, to make 
a grain of such a memory spring up in his hardened breast. All within 
this desolate creature is barren wilderness. All within the man bereft 
of what you have resigned, is the same barren wilderness. Woe to 
such a man ! Woe, tenfold, to the nation that shall count its monsters 
such as this, lying here, by hundreds and by thousands ! " 

Redlaw shrank, appalled, from what he heard. 

" There is not," said the Phantom, " one of these — not one — but 
sows a harvest that mankind must reap. From every seed of evil in this 
boy, a field of grain is grown that shall be gathered in, and garnered 
up, and sown again in many places in the world, until regions are over- 
spread with wickedness enough to raise the waters of another Deluge. 
Open and unpunished murder in a city's streets would be less guilty 
in its daily toleration, than one such spectacle as this." 

It seemed to look down upon the boy in his sleep. Redlaw, too, 
looked down upon him with a new emotion. 

" There is not a father," said the Phantom, " by whose side in his 
daily or his nightly walk, these creatures pass ; there is not a mother 
among all the ranks of loving mothers in this land ; there is no one 
risen from the state of childhood, but shall be responsible in his or her 
degree for this enormity. There is not a country throughout the earth 
on which it would not bring a curse. There is no religion upon earth 
that it would not deny ; there is no people upon earth it would not 
put to shame." 

The Chemist clasped his hands, and looked, with trembling fear and 
pity, from the sleeping boy to the Phantom, standing above him with 
its finger pointing down. 

" Behold, I say," pursued the spectre, " the perfect type of what it 
was your choice to be. Your influence is powerless here, because from 
this child's bosom you can banish nothing. His thoughts have been 
in ' terrible companionship ' with yours, because you have gone down 
to his unnatural level. He is the growth of man's indifference ; you 
are the growth of man's presumption. The beneficent design of Heaven 
is, in each case, overthrown, and from the two poles of the immaterial 
world you come together." 

The Chemist stooped upon the ground beside the boy, and, with 
the same kind of compassion for him that he now felt for himself, 
covered him as he slept, and no longer shrank from him with abhorrence 
or indifference. 

Soon, now, the distant line on the horizon brightened, the darkness 
faded, the sun rose red and glorious, and the chimney stacks and gables 
of the ancient building gleamed in the clear air, which turned the 



292 THE HAUNTED MAN 

smoke and vapour of the city into a cloud of gold. The very sundial 
in his shady corner, where the wdnd was used to spin with such unwindy 
constancy, shook off the finer particles of snow that had accumulated 
on his dull old face in the night, and looked out at the little white 
wreaths eddying round and round him. Doubtless some bhnd groping 
of the morning made its way down into the forgotten crypt so cold 
and earthy, where the Norman arches were half buried in the ground, 
and stirred the dull sap in the lazy vegetation hanging to the walls, and 
quickened the slow principle of life within the little world of wonderful 
and delicate creation which existed there, viath some faint knowledge 
that the sun was up. 

The Tetterbys were up, and doing. Mr. Tetterby took down the 
shutters of the shop, and, strip by strip, revealed the treasures of the 
window to the eyes, so proof against their seductions, of Jerusalem 
Buildings. Adolphus had been out so long already, that he was half way 
on to " Morning Pepper." Five small Tetterbys, whose ten round eyes 
were much inflamed by soap and friction, were in the tortures of a cool 
wash in the back kitchen ; Mrs. Tetterby presiding. Johnny, who was 
pushed and hustled through his toilet vdth great rapidity when Moloch 
chanced to be in an exacting frame of mind (which was always the case), 
staggered up and down with his charge before the shop door, under 
greater difficulties than usual ; the weight of Moloch being much 
increased by a complication of defences against the cold, composed of 
knitted worsted-work, and forming a complete suit of chain-armour, 
with a head-piece and blue gaiters. 

It was a peculiarity of this baby to be always cutting teeth. Whether 
they never came, or whether they came and went away again, is not in 
evidence ; but it had certainly cut enough, on the showing of Mrs. 
Tetterby, to make a handsome dental provision for the sign of the Bull 
and Mouth. All sorts of objects were impressed for the rubbing of its 
gums, notwithstanding that it always carried, dangHng at its waist 
(which was immediately under its chin), a bone ring, large enough to 
have represented the rosary of a young nun. Knife-handles, umbrella- 
tops, the heads of walking-sticks selected from the stock, the fingers of 
the family in general, but especially of Johnny, nutmeg-graters, crusts, 
the handles of doors, and the cool knobs on the tops of pokers, were 
among the commonest instruments indiscriminately applied for this 
baby's relief. The amount of electricity that must have been rubbed out 
of it in a week, is not to be calculated. Still Mrs. Tetterby always said 
" it was coming through, and then the child would be herself " ; and 
still it never did come through, and the child continued to be somebody 
else. 

The tempers of the Httle Tetterbys had sadly changed with a few 
hours. Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby themselves were not more altered than 
their offspring. Usually they were an unselfish, good-natured, yielding 
Httle race, sharing short commons when it happened (which was pretty 



THE HAUNTED MAN 293 

often) contentedly and even generously, and taking a great deal of enjoy- 
ment out of a very little meat. But they were fighting now, not only 
for the soap and water, but even for the breakfast which was yet in per- 
spective. The hand of every little Tetterby was against the other little 
Tetterbys ; and even Johnny's hand — the patient, much-enduring, and 
devoted Johnny — rose against the baby ! Yes, Mrs. Tetterby, going 
to the door by mere accident, saw him viciously pick out a weak place 
in the suit of armour where a slap would tell, and slap that blessed 
child. 

Mrs. Tetterby had him into the parlour by the collar, in that same 
flash of time, and repaid him the assault with usury thereto. 

" You brute, you murdering httle boy," said Mrs. Tetterby. " Had 
you the heart to do it ? " 

" Why don't her teeth come through, then," retorted Johnny, in a 
loud rebeUious voice, " instead of bothering me ? How would you like 
it yourself .? " 

" Like it, sir ! " said Mrs. Tetterby, reheving him of his dishonoured 
load. 

'' Yes, like it," said Johnny. " How would you ? Not at all. If you 
was me, you'd go for a soldier. I will, too. There ain't no babies in 
the Army." 

Mr. Tetterby, who had arrived upon the scene of action, rubbed his 
chin thoughtfully, instead of correcting the rebel, and seemed rather 
struck by this view of a military life. 

" I wish I was in the Army myself, if the child's in the right," said Mrs. 
Tetterby, looking at her husband, " for I have no peace of my life here. 
I'm a slave — a Virginia slave : " some indistinct association with their 
weak descent on the tobacco trade perhaps suggested this aggravated 
expression to Mrs. Tetterby. " I never have a holiday, or any pleasure 
at all, from year's end to year's end ! Why, Lord bless and save the 
child," said Mrs. Tetterby, shaking the baby with an irritabiHty hardly 
suited to so pious an aspiration, " what's the matter with her now ? " 

Not being able to discover, and not rendering the subject much 
clearer by shaking it, Mrs. Tetterby put the baby away in a cradle, and 
folding her arms, sat rocking it angrily with her foot. 

" How you stand there, 'Dolphus," said Mrs. Tetterby to her husband. 
" Why don't you do something .? " 

" Because I don't care about doing anything," Mr. Tetterby replied. 

" I am sure / don't," said Mrs. Tetterby. 

" I'll take my oath / don't," said Mr. Tetterby. 

A diversion arose here among Johnny and his five younger brothers, 
who, in preparing the family breakfast table, had fallen to skirmishing 
for the temporary possession of the loaf, and were bufiPeting one another 
with great heartiness ; the smallest boy of all, with precocious discretion, 
hovering outside the knot of combatants, and harassing their legs. Into 
the midst of this fray, Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby both precipitated them- 



294 THE HAUNTED MAN 

selves wdth great ardour, as if such ground were the only ground on 
which they could now agree ; and having, with no visible remains of 
their late soft-heartedness, laid about them without any lenity, and done 
much execution, resumed their former relative positions. 

" You had better read your paper than do nothing at all," said Mrs. 
Tetterby. 

" What's there to read in a paper ? " returned Mr. Tetterby, with 
excessive discontent. 

" What ? " said Mrs. Tetterby. " Police." 

" It's nothing to me," said Tetterby. " What do I care what people 
do, or are done to .? " 

" Suicides," suggested Mrs. Tetterby. 

" No business of mine," repHed her husband. 

" Births, deaths, and marriages, are those nothing to you ? " said 
Mrs. Tetterby. 

" If the births were all over for good, and all to-day ; and the deaths 
were all to begin to come off to-morrow ; I don't see why it should 
interest me, till I thought it was a coming to my turn," grumbled 
Tetterby. " As to marriages, I've done it myself. I know quite enough 
about them.^' 

To judge from the dissatisfied expression of her face and manner, 
Mrs. Tetterby appeared to entertain the same opinions as her husband ; 
but she opposed him, nevertheless, for the gratification of quarreUing 
with him. 

" Oh, you're a consistent man," said Mrs. Tetterby, " ain't you f 
You, with the screen of your own making there, made of nothing else 
but bits of newspapers, which you sit and read to the children by the 
half-hour together ? " 

" Say used to, if you please," returned her husband. " You won't 
find me doing so any more. I'm wiser now." 

" Bah ! wiser, indeed ! " said Mrs. Tetterby. " Are you better .? " 

The question sounded some discordant note in Mr. Tetterby's breast. 
He ruminated dejectedly, and passed his hand across and across his 
forehead. 

" Better ! " murmured Mr. Tetterby. " I don't know as any of us 
are better, or happier either. Better, is it ? " 

He turned to the screen, and traced about it with his finger, until he 
found a certain paragraph of which he was in quest. 

" This used to be one of the family favourites, I recollect," said 
Tetterby, in a forlorn and stupid way, " and used to draw tears from the 
children, and make 'em good, if there was any Httle bickering or dis- 
content among 'em, next to the story of the robin redbreasts in the woods. 
' Melancholy case of destitution. Yesterday a small man, with a baby in 
his arms, and surrounded by half-a-dozen ragged little ones, of various 
ages between ten and two, the whole of whom were evidently in a 
famishing condition, appeared before the worthy magistrate, and made 



THE HAUNTED MAN 295 

the following recital : ' — Ha ! I don't understand it, I'm sure," said 
Tetterby ; " I don't see what it has got to do with us." 

" How old and shabby he looks," said Mrs. Tetterby, watching him. 
" I never saw such a change in a man. Ah ! dear me, dear me, dear me, 
it v/as a sacrifice ! " 

" What was a sacrifice .? " her husband sourly inquired. 

Mr.. Tetterby shook her head ; and without replying in words, raised 
a complete sea-storm about the baby, by her violent agitation of the 
cradle. 

" If you mean your marriage was a sacrifice, my good woman " 

said her husband. 

" I do mean it," said his wife. 

" Why, then I mean to say," pursued Mr. Tetterby, as sulkily and 
surhly as she, " that there are two sides to that affair ; and that / was 
the sacrifice ; and that I wish the sacrifice hadn't been accepted." 

" I wish it hadn't, Tetterby, with all my heart and soul I do assure 
you," said lis wife. " You can't wish it more than I do, Tetterby." 

" I don't know what I saw in her," muttered the newsman, " I'm 
sure ; — certanly, if I saw anything, it's not there now. I was thinking 
so, last night, after supper, by the fire. She's fat, she's ageing, she won't 
bear compari;on with most other women." 

" He's conmon-looking, he has no air with him, he's small, he's 
beginning to itoop, and he's getting bald," muttered Mrs. Tetterby. 

" I must hive been half out of my mind when I did it," muttered 
Mr. Tetterby. 

" My senses must have forsook me. That's the only way in which I 
can explain it to myself," said Mrs. Tetterby, wdth elaboration. 

In this mooc they sat down to breakfast. The little Tetterbys were 
not habituated :o regard that meal in the light of a sedentary occupation, 
but discussed it is a dance or trot ; rather resembHng a savage ceremony, 
in the occasiond shrill whoops, and brandishings of bread and butter, 
with which it wis accompanied, as well as in the intricate filings off into 
the street and b.ck again, and the hoppings up and down the doorsteps, 
which were incicental to the performance. In the present instance, the 
contentions betveen these Tetterby children for the milk-and-water jug 
common to all, vhich stood upon the table, presented so lamentable an 
instance of angr) passions risen very high indeed, that it was an outrage 
on the memory )f Doctor Watts. It was not until Mr. Tetterby had 
driven the whole herd out at the front door, that a moment's peace was 
secured ; and evtn that was broken by the discovery that Johnny had 
surreptitiously cane back, and was at that instant choking in the jug 
like a ventriloquit, in his indecent and rapacious haste. 

" These childrei will be the death of me at last ! " said Mrs. Tetterby, 
after banishing tk culprit. " And the sooner the better, I think." 

" Poor people,' said Mr. Tetterby, " ought not to have children at 
all. They give u: no pleasure." 



296 THE HAUNTED MAN 

He was at that moment taking up the cup which Mrs. Tetterby had 
rudely pushed towards him, and Mrs. Tetterby was hfting her own cup 
to her lips, when they were both stopped, as if they were transfixed. 

" Here ! Mother ! Father ! " cried Johnny, running into the room. 
" Here's Mrs. WiUiam coming down the street ! " 

And if ever, since the world began, a young boy took a baby from a 
cradle with the care of an old nurse, and hushed and soothed it tenderly, 
and tottered away with it cheerfully, Johnny was that boy, and Moloch 
was that baby, as they went out together ! 

Mr. Tetterby put down his cup ; Mrs. Tetterby put down her cup. 
Mr. Tetterby rubbed his forehead ; Mrs. Tetterby rubbed hers. Mr. 
Tetterby's face began to smooth and brighten ; Mrs. Tetterb^'s began 
to smooth and brighten. 

" Why, Lord forgive me," said Mr. Tetterby to himself, "what evil 
tempers have I been giving way to .? What has been the matlsr here ? " 

" How could I ever treat him ill again, after all I said aid felt last 
night ! " sobbed Mrs. Tetterby, with her apron to her eyes. 

" Am I a brute," said Mr. Tetterby, " or is there any good in me at 
all ? Sophia ! My Httle woman ! " 

" 'Dolphus dear," returned his wife. 

" I — I've been in a state of mind," said Mr. Tetterby, " that I can't 
abear to think of, Sophy." 

" Oh ! It's nothing to what I've been in, Dolf," cried his wife in a 
great burst of grief. 

" My Sophia," said Mr. Tetterby, " don't take on. I never shall 
forgive myself. I must have nearly broke your heart, I kiow." 

" No, Dolf, no. It was me ! Me ! " cried Mrs. Tetteoy. 

" My little woman," said her husband, " don't. You msfce me reproach 
myself dreadful, when you show such a noble spirit. S»phia, my dear, 
you don't know what I thought. I showed it bad enoigh, no doubt ; 
but what I thought, my little woman ! " 

" Oh, dear Dolf, don't ! Don't ! " cried his wife. 

" Sophia," said Mr. Tetterby, " I must reveal it. I couldn't rest in 
my conscience unless I mentioned it. My little woman " 

" Mrs. William's very nearly here ! " screamed Johniy at the door. 

" My little woman, I wondered how," gasped Mr.Ttterby, support- 
ing himself by his chair, " I wondered how I had eve- admired you — 
I forgot the precious children you have brought about me, and thought 
you didn't look as shm as I could wish. I — I never gavi a recollection," 
said Mr. Tetterby, with severe self -accusation, " to the cares you've had 
as my wife, and along of me and mine, when you migh: have had hardly 
any with another man, who got on better and was luclier than me (any- 
body might have found such a man easily, I am sure) , and I quarrelled 
with you for having aged a little in the rough years you have 
lightened for me. Can you believe it, my httle womm .? I hardly can 
myself," 



THE HAUNTED MAN 297 

Mrs. Tetterby, in a whirlwind of laughing and crying, caught his face 
within her hands, and held it there, 

" Oh, Dolf ! " she cried. " I am so happy that you thought so ; I am 
so grateful that you thought so ! For I thought that you were common- 
looking, Dolf ; and so you are, my dear, and may you be the commonest 
of all sights in my eyes, till you close them with your own good hands. 
I thought that you were small ; and so you are, and I'll make much of 
you because you are, and more of you because I love my husband. 
I thought that you began to stoop ; and so you do, and you shall lean 
on me, and I'll do all I can to keep you up. I thought there was no air 
about you ; but there is, and it's the air of home, and that's the purest 
and the best there is, and God bless home once more, and all belonging 
to it, Dolf ! " 

" Hurrah ! Here's Mrs. WiUiam ! " cried Johnny. 

So she was, and all the children with her ; and as she came in, they 
kissed her, and kissed one another, and kissed the baby, and kissed their 
father and mother, and then ran back and flocked and danced about her, 
trooping on with her in triumph. 

Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby were not a bit behindhand in the warmth of 
their reception. They were as much attracted to her as the children 
were ; they ran towards her, kissed her hands, pressed round her, could 
not receive her ardently or enthusiastically enough. She came among 
them Hke the spirit of all goodness, affection, gentle consideration, love, 
and domesticity. 

" What ! are you all so glad to see me, too, this bright Christmas 
morning } " said MiUy, clapping her hands in a pleasant wonder. " Oh 
dear, how dehghtful this is ! " 

More shouting from the children, more kissing, more trooping round 
her, more happiness, more love, more joy, more honour, on all sides, than 
she could bear. 

" Oh dear ! " said Milly, " what deHcious tears you make me shed. 
How can I ever have deserved this ! What have I done to be so loved ? " 

" Who can help it ! " cried Mr. Tetterby. 

" Who can help it ! " cried Mrs. Tetterby. 

" Who can help it ! " echoed the children, in a joyful chorus. And 
they danced and trooped about her again, and clung to her, and laid 
their rosy faces against her dress, and kissed and fondled it, and could not 
fondle it, or her, enough. 

" I never was so moved," said Milly, drying her eyes, " as I have been 
this morning. I must tell you, as soon as I can speak. — Mr. Redlaw came 
to me at sunrise, and with a tenderness in his manner, more as if I had 
been his darhng daughter than myself, implored me to go with him to 
where William's brother George is lying ill. We went together, and all 
the way along he was so kind, and so subdued, and seemed to put such 
trust and hope in me, that I could not help crying with pleasure. When 
we got to the house, we met a woman at the door (somebody had bruised 



298 THE HAUNTED MAN 

and hurt her, I am afraid) who caught me hy the hand, and blessed me 
as I passed." 

" She was right ! " said Mr. Tetterby. Mrs. Tetterby said she was 
right. All the children cried out that she was right. 

" Ah, but there's more than that," said MiWy. " When we got up 
stairs, into the room, the sick man who had lain for hours in a state from 
which no effort could rouse him, rose up in his bed, and, bursting into 
tears, stretched out his arms to me, and said that he had led a mis-spent 
life, but that he was truly repentant now in his sorrow for the past, 
which was all as plain to him as a great prospect, from which a dense 
black cloud had cleared away, and that he entreated me to ask his poor old 
father for his pardon and his blessing, and to say a prayer beside his bed. 
And when I did so, Mr. Redlaw joined in it so fervently, and then so 
thanked and thanked me, and thanked Heaven, that my heart quite 
overflowed, and I could have done nothing but sob and cry, if the sick 
man had not begged me to sit down by him, — which made me quiet of 
course. As I sat there, he held my hand in his until he sank in a doze, 
and even then, when I withdrew my hand to leave him to come here 
(which Mr. Redlaw was very earnest indeed in wishing me to do), his 
hand felt for mine, so that some one else was obliged to take my place and 
make beheve to give him my hand back. Oh dear, oh dear," said Milly 
sobbing. " How thankful and how happy I should feel, and do feel, for 
aU this ! " 

While she was speaking, Redlaw had come in, and after pausing for a 
moment to observe the group of which she was the centre, had silently 
ascended the stairs. Upon those stairs he now appeared again ; remaining 
there, while the young student passed him, and came running down. 

" Kind nurse, gentlest, best of creatures," he said, falHng on his knee 
to her, and catching at her hand, " forgive my cruel ingratitude ! " 
^^" Oh dear, oh dear ! " cried Milly innocently, " here's another of 
them ! Oh dear, here's somebody else who likes me. What shall I 
ever do ! " 

The guileless, simple way in which she said it, and in which she put 
her hands before her eyes and wept for very happiness, was as touching as 
it was dehghtful. 

" I was not myself," he said. " I don't know what it was — it was some 
consequence of my disorder perhaps — I was mad. But I am so no longer. 
Almost as I speak, I am restored. I heard the children crying out your 
name, and the shade passed from me at the very sound of it. Oh don't 
weep ! Dear Milly, if you could read my heart, and only knew with what 
affection and what grateful homage it is glowing, you would not let me 
see you weep. It is such deep reproach." 

" No, no," said Milly, " it's not that. It's not indeed. It's joy. It's 
wonder that you should think it necessary to ask me to forgive so little, 
and yet's it's pleasure that you do." 

" And will you come again ? and will you finish the Httle curtain ? " 



THE HAUNTED MAN 299 

" No," said Milly, drying her eyes, and shaking her head. " You 
won't care for my needlework now." 

" Is it forgiving me, to say that .? " 

She beckoned him aside, and whispered in his ear. 

" There is news from your home, Mr. Edmund." 

" News ? How ? " 

" Either your not writing when you were very ill, or the change in 
your handwriting when you began to be better, created some suspicion 

of the truth ; however that is but you're sure you'll not be the worse 

for any news, if it's not bad news I " 

" Sure." 

" Then there's some one come ! " said Milly. 

" My mother ? " asked the student, glancing round involuntarily 
towards Redlaw, who had come down from the stairs. 

"Hush! No," said Milly. 

" It can be no one else." 

" Indeed ! " said Milly, " are you sure ? " 

" It is not ." Before he could say more, she put her hand upon 

his mouth. 

*' Yes, it is ! " said Milly. " The young lady (she is very like the minia- 
ture, Mr. Edmund, but she is prettier) was too unhappy to rest without 
satisfying her doubts, and came up, last night, with a little servant-maid. 
As you always dated your letters from the college, she came there ; and 
before I saw Mr. Redlaw this morning, I saw her. She likes me too ! " 
said MiUy. " Oh dear, that's another ! " 

" This morning ! Where is she now ? " 

" Why, she is now," said MiUy, advancing her lips to his ear, " in my 
little parlour in the Lodge, and waiting to see you." 

He pressed her hand, and was darting off, but she detained him. 

" Mr. Redlaw is much altered, and has told me this morning that his 
memory is impaired. Be very considerate to him, Mr. Edmund ; he 
needs that from us all." 

The young man assured her, by a look, that her caution was not ill- 
bestowed ; and as he passed the Chemist on his way out, bent respect- 
fully and with an obvious interest before him. 

Redlaw returned the salutation courteously and even humbly, and 
looked after him as he passed on. He drooped his head upon his hand 
too, as trying to reawaken something he had lost. But it was gone. 

The abiding change that had come upon him since the influence of the 
music, and the Phantom's reappearance, was, that now he truly felt 
how much he had lost, and could compassionate his own condition, and 
contrast it, clearly, with the natural state of those who were around him. 
In this, an interest in those who were around him was revived, and a 
meek, submissive sense of his calamity was bred, resembling that which 
sometimes obtains in age, when its mental powers are weakened, without 
insensibility or suUenness being added to the list of its infirmities. 



300 THE HAUNTED MAN 

He was conscious that, as he redeemed, through Milly, more and more 
of the evil he had done, and as he was more and more with her, this 
change ripened itself within him. Therefore, and because of the attach- 
ment she inspired him with (but without other hope), he felt that he was 
quite dependent on her, and that she was his staff in his affliction. 

So, when she asked him whether they should go home now, to where 
the old man and her husband were, and he readily replied " yes " — 
being anxious in that regard — he put his arm through hers, and walked 
beside her ; not as if he were the wise and learned man to whom the 
wonders of Nature were an open book, and hers were the uninstructed 
mind, but as if their two positions were reversed, and he knew nothing, 
and she all. 

He saw the children throng about her, and caress her, as he and she 
went away together thus, out of the house ; he heard the ringing of their 
laughter, and their merry voices ; he saw their bright faces, clustering 
around him Hke flowers ; he witnessed the renewed contentment and 
affection of their parents ; he breathed the simple air of their poor home, 
restored to its tranquillity ; he thought of the unwholesome blight he had 
shed upon it, and might, but for her, have been diffusing then ; and 
perhaps it is no wonder that he walked submissively beside her, and 
drew her gentle bosom nearer to his own. 

When they arrived at the Lodge, the old man was sitting in his chair 
in the chimney-corner, with his eyes fixed on the ground, and his son was 
leaning against the opposite side of the fire-place, looking at him. As 
she came in at the door, both started, and turned round towards her, 
and a radiant change came upon their faces. 

" Oh dear, dear, dear, they are all pleased to see me like the rest ! " 
cried Milly, clapping her hands in an ecstasy, and stopping short. 
" Here are two more ! " 

Pleased to see her ! Pleasure was no word for it. She ran into her 
husband's arms, thrown wide open to receive her, and he would have 
been glad to have her there, with her head lying on his shoulder, through 
the short winter's day. But the old man couldn't spare her. He had 
arms for her too, and he locked her in them. 

" Why, where has my quiet Mouse been all this time .? " said the old 
man. " She has been a long while away. I find that it's impossible for me 
to get on without Mouse. I — ^where's my son William ? — I fancy I have 
been dreaming, William." 

" That's what I say myself, father," returned his son. " / have been 
in an ugly sort of dream, I think. — How are you, father ? Are you pretty 
weU .? " 

" Strong and brave, my boy," returned the old man. 

It was quite a sight to see Mr. William shaking hands with his father 
and patting him on the back, and rubbing him gently down with his 
hand, as if he could not possibly do enough to show an interest in him. 

" What a wonderful man you are, father ! — How are you, father ? 



THE HAUNTED MAN 301 

Are you really pretty hearty, though ? " said William, shaking hands with 
him again, and patting him again, and rubbing him gently down again. 
" I never was fresher or stouter in my life, my boy." 
" What a wonderful man you are, father ! But that's exactly where it 
is," said Mr. William, with enthusiasm. " When I think of all that my 
father's gone through, and all the chances and changes, and sorrows and 
troubles, that have happened to him in the course of his long life, and 
under which his head has grown grey, and years upon years have gathered 
on it, I feel as if we couldn't do enough to honour the old gentleman, and 
make his old age easy. — How are you, father ? Are you really pretty well, 
though .? " 

Mr. William might never have left off repeating this inquiry, and 
shaking hands with him again, and patting him again, and rubbing him 
down again, if the old man had not espied the Chemist, whom until now 
he had not seen. 

" I ask your pardon, Mr. Redlaw," said Philip, " but didn't know you 
were here, sir, or should have made less free. It reminds me, Mr. Redlaw, 
seeing you here on a Christmas morning, of the time when you was a 
student yourself, and worked so hard that you was backwards and for- 
wards in our Library even at Christmas time. Ha ! ha ! I'm old enough 
to remember that ; and I remember it right well, I do, though I'm 
eighty-seven. It was after you left here that my poor wife died. You 
remember my poor wife, Mr. Redlaw ? " 

The Chemist answered yes. 

" Yes," said the old man. " She was a dear creetur. — I recollect you 
come here one Christmas morning with a young lady — I ask your pardon, 
Mr. Redlaw, but I think it was a sister you was very much attached 
to ? " 

The Chemist looked at him, and shook his head. " I had a sister," he 
said vacantly. He knew no more. 

" One Christmas morning," pursued the old man, " that you come 
here with her — and it began to snow, and my wife invited the young 
lady to walk in, and sit by the fire that is always a burning on Christmas 
Day in what used to be, before our ten poor gentlemen commuted, our 
great Dinner Hall. I was there ; and I recollect, as I was stirring up the 
blaze for the young lady to warm her pretty feet by, she read the scroll 
out loud, that is underneath that picter. ' Lord, keep my memory 
green ! ' She and my poor wife fell a talking about it ; and it's a strange 
thing to think of, now, that they both said (both being so unlike to die) 
that it was a good prayer, and that it was one they would put up very 
earnestly, if they were called away young, with reference to those who 
were dearest to them. ' My brother,' says the young lady — ' My 
husband,' says my poor wife. — ' Lord, keep his memory of me, green, 
and do not let me be forgotten ! ' " 

Tears more painful, and more bitter than he had ever shed in all his 
life, coursed down Redlaw's face. PhiHp, fully occupied in recalling his 



302 THE HAUNTED MAN 

story, had not observed him until now, nor Milly's anxiety that he should 
not proceed. 

" Phihp ! " said Redlaw, laying his hand upon his arm, " I am a 
stricken man, on whom the hand o£ Providence has fallen heavily, although 
deservedly. You speak to me, my friend, of what I cannot follow ; my 
memory is gone." 

" Merciful Power ! " cried the old man. 

" I have lost my memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble," said the 
Chemist, " and with that I have lost all man would remember ! " 

To see old PhiHp's pity for him, to see him wheel his own great chair 
for him to rest in, and look down upon him with a solemn sense of his 
bereavement, was to know, in some degree, how precious to old age such 
recollections are. 

The boy came running in, and ran to Milly. 

" Here's the man," he said, " in the other room. I don't want Zjzot." 

" What man does he mean .' " asked Mr. WilHam. 

" Hush ! " said MiUy. 

Obedient to a sign from her, he and his old father softly withdrew. As 
they went out, unnoticed, Redlaw beckoned to the boy to come to him. 

" I Hke the woman best," he answered, holding to her skirts. 

" You are right," said Redlaw, with a faint smile. " But you needn't 
fear to come to me. I am gentler than I was. Of all the world, to you, 
poor child ! " 

The boy still held back at first, but yielding little by little to her 
urging, he consented to approach, and even to sit down at his feet. As 
Redlaw laid his hand upon the shoulder of the child, looking on him with 
compassion and a fellow-feeling, he put out his other hand to Milly. 
She stooped down on that side of him, so that she could look into his 
face, and after silence, said : 

" Mr. Redlaw, may I speak to you ? " 

" Yes," he answered, fixing his eyes upon her. " Your voice and music 
are the same to me." 

" May I ask you something .? " 

" What you will." 

" Do you remember what I said, when I knocked at your door last 
night ? About one who was your friend once, and who stood on the 
verge of destruction .? " 

" Yes. I remember," he said, with some hesitation. 

" Do you understand it ? " 

He smoothed the boy's hair — looking at her fixedly the while, and 
shook his head. 

" This person," said Milly, in her clear, soft voice, which her mild 
eyes, looking at him, made clearer and softer, " I found soon afterwards. 
I went back to the house, and, with Heaven's help, traced him. I was 
not too soon. A very little and I should have been too late." 

He took his hand from the boy, and laying it on the back of that 



THE HAUNTED MAN 303 

hand of hers, whose timid and yet earnest touch addressed him no less 
appeaHngly than her voice and eyes, looked more intently on her. 

" He is the father of Mr. Edmund, the young gentleman we saw just 
now. His real name is Longford. — ^You recollect the name ? " 
" I recollect the name." 
" And the man ? " 

" No, not the man. Did he ever wrong me ? " 
" Yes ! " 

" Ah ! Then it's hopeless — ^hopeless." 

He shook his head, and softly beat upon the hand he held, as though 
mutely asking her commiseration, 

" I did not go to Mr. Edmund last night," said Milly, — " You will 
listen to me just the same as if you did remember all .? " 
" To every syllable you say." 

" Both, because I did not know, then, that this really was his father, 
and because I was fearful of the effect of such inteUigence upon him, 
after his illness, if it should be. Since I have known who this person is, 
I have not gone either ; but that is for another reason. He has long been 
separated from his wife and son — has been a stranger to his home almost 
from this son's infancy, I learn from him — and has abandoned and 
deserted what he should have held most dear. In all that time he has 

been falling from the state of a gentleman, more and more, until " she 

rose up hastily, and going out for a moment, returned, accompanied by 
the wreck that Redlaw had beheld last night. 
" Do you know me ? " asked the Chemist. 

" I should be glad," returned the other, " and that is an unwonted 
word for me to use, if I could answer no." 

The Chemist looked at the man, standing in self-abasement and 
degradation before him, and would have looked longer, in an ineffectual 
struggle for enlightenment, but that Milly resumed her late position 
by his side, and attracted his attentive gaze to her own face. 

" See how low he is sunk, how lost he is ! " she whispered, stretching 
out her arm towards him, without looking from the Chemist's face. " If 
you could remember all that is connected with him, do you not think it 
would move your pity to reflect that one you ever loved (do not let us 
mind how long ago, or in what beHef that he has forfeited), should come 
to this ? " 

" I hope it would," he answered. " I believe it would." 
His eyes wandered to the figure standing near the door, but came back 
speedily to her, on whom he gazed intently, as if he strove to learn some 
lesson from every tone of her voice, and every beam of her eyes. 

" I have no learning, and you have much," said Milly ; " I am 
not used to think, and you are always thinking. May I tell you why it 
seems to me a good thing for us, to remember wrong that has been 
done us ? " 
« Yes." 



304 THE HAUNTED MAN 

" That we may forgive it." 

" Pardon me, great Heaven ! " said Redlaw, lifting up his eyes, " for 
having thrown away thine ovm high attribute ! " 

" ^d if," said Milly, " if your memory should one day be restored, 
as we will hope and pray it may be, would it not be a blessing to you to 
recall at once a wrong and its forgiveness ? " 

He looked at the figure by the door, and fastened his attentive eyes on 
her again ; a ray of clearer light appeared to him to shine into his mind, 
from her bright face. 

" He cannot go to his abandoned home. He does not seek to go there. 
He knows that he could only carry shame and trouble to those he has so 
cruelly neglected ; and that the best reparation he can make them now, 
is to avoid them. A very little money carefully bestowed, would remove 
him to some distant place, where he might live and do no wrong, and 
make such atonement as is left within his power for the wrong he has 
done. To the unfortunate lady who is his wife, and to his son, this would 
be the best and kindest boon that their best friend could give them — one 
too that they need never know of ; and to him, shattered in reputation, 
mind, and body, it might be salvation." 

He took her head between his hands, and kissed it, and said : "It 
shall be done. I trust to you to do it for me, now and secretly ; and to 
tell him that I would forgive him, if I were so happy as to know for 
what." 

As she rose, and turned her beaming face towards the fallen man, 
implying that her mediation had been successful, he advanced a step, and 
without raising his eyes, addressed himself to Redlaw. " You are so 
generous," he said, " — you ever were — that you will try to banish your 
rising sense of retribution in the spectacle that is before you. I do not 
try to banish it from myself, Redlaw. If you can, beheve me." 

The Chemist entreated Milly, by a gesture, to come nearer to him ; 
and, as he Hstened, looked in her face, as if to find in it the clue to what 
he heard. 

" I am too decayed a wretch to make professions ; I recollect my own 
career too well, to array any such before you. But from the day on which 
I made my first step downward, in dealing falsely by you, I have gone 
down with a certain, steady, doomed progression. That, I say." 

Redlaw, keeping her close at his side, turned his face towards the 
speaker, and there was sorrow in it. Something like mournful recognition 
too. 

" I might have been another man, my life might have been another 
life, if I had avoided that first fatal step. I don't know that it would have 
been. I claim nothing for the possibihty. Your sister is at rest, and better 
than she could have been with me, if I had continued even what you 
thought me : even what I once supposed myself to be." 

Redlaw made a hasty motion with his hand, as if he would have put 
that subject on one side. 



THE HAUNTED MAN 305 

" I speak," the other went on, " like a man taken from the grave. I 
should have made my own grave, last night, had it not been for this 
blessed hand." 

" Oh dear, he likes me too ! " sobbed Milly, under her breath. That's 
another ! " 

" I could not have put myself in your way, last night, even for bread. 
But, to-day, my recollection of what has been is so strongly stirred, and 
is presented to me, I don't know how, so vividly, that I have dared to 
come at her suggestion, and to take your bounty, and to thank you for 
it, and to beg you, Redlaw, in your dying hour, to be as merciful to me 
in your thoughts, as you are in your deeds." 

He turned towards the door, and stopped a moment on his way 
forth. 

" I hope my son may interest you, for his mother's sake. I hope he may 
deserve to do so. Unless my life should be preserved a long time, and I 
should know that I have not misused your aid, I shall never look upon 
him more." 

Going out, he raised his eyes to Redlaw for the first time. Redlaw, 
whose steadfast gaze was fixed upon him, dreamily held out his hand. 
He returned and touched it — little more — with both his own ; and 
bending down his head, went slowly out. 

In the few moments that elapsed, while Milly silently took him to the 
gate, the Chemist dropped into his chair, and covered his face with his 
hands. Seeing him thus, when she came back, accompanied by her 
husband and his father (who were both greatly concerned for him), she 
avoided disturbing him, or permitting him to be disturbed ; and kneeled 
down near the chair to put some warm clothing on the boy. 

" That's exactly where it is. That's what I always say, father ! " 
exclaimed her admiring husband. " There's a motherly feehng in Mrs. 
William's breast that must and will have went ! " 

" Ay, ay," said the old man ; " you're right. My son William's 
right ! " 

" It happens all for the best, Milly dear, no doubt," said Mr. William, 
tenderly, " that we have no children of our own ; and yet I sometimes 
wish you had one to love and cherish. Our little dead child that you 
built such hopes upon, and that never breathed the breath of life — it 
has made you quiet-like, Milly." 

*' I am very happy in the recollection of it, WilHam dear," she 
answered. " I think of it every day." 

" I was afraid you thought of it a good deal." 

" Don't say, afraid ; it is a comfort to me ; it speaks to me in so many 
ways. The innocent thing that never Uved on earth, is like an angel to 
me, William." 

" You are Hke an angel to father and me," said Mr. William, softly. 
" I know that." 

" When I think of all those hopes I built upon it, and the many times 
cc. L 



3o6 THE HAUNTED MAN 

I sat and pictured to myself the little smiling face upon my bosom that 
never lay there, and the sweet eyes turned up to mine that never opened 
to the light," said Milly, " I can feel a greater tenderness, I think, for all 
the disappointed hopes in which there is no harm. When I see a beautiful 
child in its fond mother's arms, I love it all the better, thinking that my 
child might have been like that, and might have made my heart as proud 
and happy." 

Redlaw raised his head, and looked towards her. 

" All through life, it seems by me," she continued, " to tell me some- 
thing. For poor neglected children, my little child pleads as if it were 
ahve and had a voice I knew, with which to speak to me. When I hear of 
youth in suffering or shame, I think that my child might have come to 
that, perhaps, and that God took it from me in His mercy. Even in age 
and grey hair, such as father's, it is present : saying that it too might 
have Hved to be old, long and long after you and I were gone, and to 
have needed the respect and love of younger people." 

Her quiet voice was quieter than ever, as she took her husband's arm 
and laid her head against it. 

" Children love me so, that sometimes I half fancy — it's a silly fancy, 
William — they have some way I don't know of, of feeling for my Httle 
child, and me, and understanding why their love is precious to me. If I 
have been quiet since, I have been more happy, William, in a hundred 
ways. Not least happy, dear, in this — that even when my Httle child 
was born and dead but a few days, and I was weak and sorrowful, and 
could not help grieving a little, the thought arose, that if I tried to lead 
a good life, I should meet in Heaven a bright creature, who would call 
me, Mother ! " 

Redlaw fell upon his knees, with a loud cry. 

" O Thou," he said, " who through the teaching of pure love, hast 
graciously restored me to the memory which was the memory of Christ 
upon the Cross, and of all the good who perished in His cause, receive 
my thanks, and bless her ! " 

Then, he folded her to his heart ; and Milly, sobbing more than ever, 
cried, as she laughed, " He is come back to himself ! He likes me very 
much indeed, too ! Oh, dear, dear, dear me, here's another ! " 

Then, the student entered, leading by the hand a lovely girl, who was 
afraid to come. And Redlaw so changed towards him, seeing in him and 
his youthful choice, the softened shadow of that chastening passage in 
his own life, to which, as to a shady tree, the dove so long imprisoned in 
his solitary ark might fly for rest and company, fell upon his neck, 
entreating them to be his children. 

Then, as Christmas is a time in which, of all times in the year, the 
memory of every remediable sorrow, wrong, and trouble in the world 
around us, should be active with us, not less than our own experiences, 
for all good, he laid his hand upon the boy, and, silently, calling Him 
to witness who laid His hand on children in old time, rebuking, in, the 



I 



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THE HAUNTED MAN 307 

majesty o£ His prophetic knowledge, those who kept them from Hiir 
vowed to protect him, teach him, and reclaim him. 

Then, he gave his right hand cheerily to Philip, and said that they 
would that day hold a Christmas dinner in what used to be, before the 
ten poor gentlemen commuted, their great Dinner Hall ; and .that 
they would bid to it as many of that Swidger family, who, his 'son 
had told him, were so numerous that they might join hands and make 
a ring round England, as could be brought together on so short a 
notice. 

And it was that day done. There were so many Swidgers there, grown 
up and children, that an attempt to state them in round numbers might 
engender doubts, in the distrustful, of the veracity of this history. There- 
fore the attempt shall not be made. But there they were, by dozens and 
scores — and there was good news and good hope there, ready for them 
of George, who had been visited again by his father and brother, and 
by Milly, and again left in a quiet sleep. There, present at the dinner, 
too, were the Tetterbys, including young Adolphus, who arrived in his 
prismatic comforter, in good time for the beef. Johnny and the baby 
were too late, of course, and came in all on one side, the one exhausted 
the other in a supposed state of double-tooth ; but that was customary, 
and not alarming. 

It was sad to see the child who had no name or lineage, watching the 
other children as they played, not knowing how to talk with them or 
sport with them, and more strange to the ways of childhood than a 
rough dog. It was sad, though in a different way, to see what an instinc- 
tive knowledge the youngest children there, had of his being different 
from all the rest, and how they made timid approaches to him with soft 
words and touches, and with httle presents, that he might not be 
unhappy. But he kept by Milly, and began to love her — that was another 
as she said ! — and, as they all liked her dearly, they were glad of that, and 
when they saw him peeping at them from behind her chair, they were 
pleased that he was so close to it. 

All this, the Chemist, sitting with the student and his bride that was 
to be, and Phihp, and the rest, saw. 

Some people have said since, that he only thought what has been herein 
set down ; others, that he read it in the fire, one winter night about the 
twihght time ; others, that the Ghost was but the representation of his 
gloomy thoughts, and Milly the embodiment of his better wisdom. 
/ say nothing, 

— Except this. That as they were assembled in the old Hall, by no 
other Hght than that of a great lire (having dined early), the shadows once 
more stole out of their hiding-places, and danced about the room, show- 
ing the children marvellous shapes and faces on the walls, and gradually 
changing what was real and famihar there, to what was wild and magical. 
But that there was one thing in the Hall, to which the eyes of Redlaw 
and of Milly and her husband, and of the old man, and of the student 



3o8 THE HAUNTED MAN 

and his bride that was to be, were often turned, which the shadows did 
not obscure or change. Deepened in its gravity by the firelight, and 
gazing from the darkness of the panelled wall Hke life, the sedate face 
in the portrait, with the beard and ruff, looked down at them from under 
its verdant wreath of holly, as they looked up at it ; and, clear and plain 
below, as if a voice had uttered them, were the words, 

Hoxijy lieep mg iWetnorp CGfreen. 



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