« AnkstesnisTęsti »
The shadow of some one approaching it from without fell upon the threshold, and a man entered, dressed in dark blue cottonade, lifting from his head a fine Panama hat, and from a broad, smooth brow, fair where the hat had covered it and dark below, gently stroking back his very soft, brown locks. Madame Delphine slightly started aside, while Père Jerome reached silently, but eagerly, forward, grasped a larger hand than his own, and motioned its owner to a seat. Madame Delphine's eyes ventured no higher than to discover that the shoes of the visitor were of white duck.
"Well, Père Jerome," she said, in a hurried under-tone, "I am just going to say Hail Marys all the time till you find that out for me!"
WHENEVER the south wind blows,
On the brown turf down I lie
Madame Delphine stopped short half-way home and returned to Père Jerome's. His entry door was wide open and the parlor door ajar. She passed through the one and with downcast eyes was standing at the other, her hand lifted to knock, when the door was drawn open and the white duck shoes passed out. She saw, besides, this time the blue cottonade suit.
"Yes," the voice of Père Jerome was saying, as his face appeared in the door-"Ah!
"Well, I hope that will be soon, Madame Carraze. Good-day, Madame Carraze."
And as she departed, the priest turned to the new-comer and extended both hands, saying, in the same familiar dialect in which he had been addressing the quadroone: "Well-a-day, old playmate! After so many years!
They sat down side by side, like husband and wife, the priest playing with the other's hand, and talked of times and seasons past, often mentioning Evariste and often Jean. (To be continued.)
"I lef my parasol," said Madame Delphine, in English.
There was this quiet evidence of a defiant spirit hidden somewhere down under her general timidity, that, against a fierce conventional prohibition, she wore a bonnet instead of the turban of her caste, and carried a parasol.
Père Jerome turned and brought it. He made a motion in the direction in which the late visitor had disappeared.
"Madame Delphine, you saw dat man?" "Not his face."
"You couldn' billieve me iv I tell you w'at dat man purpose to do!" "Is dad so, Père Jerome ?"
"He's goin' to hopen a bank!" "Ah!" said Madame Delphine, seeing she was expected to be astonished.
Père Jerome evidently longed to tell something that was best kept secret; he repressed the impulse, but his heart had to say something. He threw forward one hand and looking pleasantly at Madame Delphine, with his lips dropped apart, clenched his extended hand and thrusting it toward the ground, said in a solemn undertone :
"He is God's own banker, Madame Delphine."
Lilian thinks 'tis the stir
The eternal sound, of the sea; 'Tis not of the sea, but of her, And her virgin love for me.
IN AND OUT OF LONDON WITH DICKENS.
| may have been purely imaginary on the author's part, and an after-thought to hide its identity from our prying eyes. We are not forbidden, at least, to believe that our "Old Curiosity Shop" is the genuine, original old shop and it is a pardonable, even if puerile, pleasure that comes to us as we stand here at the book-stall outside, looking in through the open door, and refilling the place with gaunt suits of old armor and ghostly bits of furniture; with Nell slumbering peacefully in their midst; their distorted forms not more alien to her youth and purity than the living shapes that move about her:
JUST out of Lincoln's Inn Fields, in crooked little Portsmouth street, stands, or rather totters, a crazy old house. It is one of those venerable buildings which are fast disappearing from the streets of London, its knees crooked, its back all awry. On its timber-crossed front, filled in with dingy plaster, we read, in odd, distorted lettering, "THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP." It has two stories, the ground floor forming a tiny shop; its counter, and floor, and shelves heaped and flowing over-or so they were, only last summer-with the most extraordinary collection of old books that ever pretended to be for sale. As we enter through the little door, a voluble man tumbles down the misshapen, shaky staircase from the upper floor into his shop. Descanting on his books, eager to make a sale, the voluble man is, at the same time, not loath to enlarge on the local legend which relates that Dickens took from this house the title and made it the scene of his story of the same name. The foundation for this fable is, I fancy, about as shaky as that of the house itself seems to be, having no other ground, so far as I can discover, than a pardonable, albeit misguided, desire on the part of this poverty-stricken neighborhood to lift itself into an easy and inexpensive notoriety. It is a pleasing delusion, however, and I give it for what it is worth. Indeed, there may be something in it. It is impossible to identify even the quarter of the town in which "The Old Curiosity Shop" of the story is located; neither in Master Humphrey's first walk there,-when, meeting Little Nell wandering in the streets of the city at dusk, he accompanies her to her home, "a long distance away, and in quite another quarter of the town,”—nor in any subsequent mention of the place, is any clew given as to its location. And, at the end, we are told that when honest Kit had married Barbara and they had a little fam-tain interest for us, too, even when not ily of boys and girls, he would sometimes localized in his works. Many an American take them to the street where his dear finds a peculiar piquancy in the ale-an young mistress had lived; "but new im- unwonted flavor in the rump-steak and marprovements had altered it so much it was row-bones, for which the Blue Posts of Cork not like the same. The old house had long street is famed, by reason of Charles Dickago been pulled down, and a fine broad ens's fondness for this queer little tavern. road was in its place."
her gambler grandfather, her dissolute brother, Trent, the genial and ingenuous dwarf, Quilp, and our own, our beloved Dick Swiveller.
At the public-house on the opposite side of Portsmouth street,-to be seen at the left of our sketch,—we can easily imagine Dick waiting and quenching his perennial thirst in the " rosy," while young Trent has gone over to see whether "the old min is friendly," and will respond to Dick's watchword: "the watchword for the old min is to fork, sir, to fork." This publichouse is The Black Jack; and of it, local gossip relates that most of this story was written within its walls. Dickens himself never imagined anything more ludicrous than this legend; for by it there is presented to the vivid imagination peculiar to the Briton the grotesque picture of the precise and perhaps too carefully dressed Mr. Dickens, in the guise of a shabby Bohemian of the Jingle or Swiveller type, carrying a small roll of manuscript in his seedy hat, and borrowing "a mouthful of ink at the bar, as he orders his bit of bread and cheese and "'arf a tankard of bitter beer." No doubt, Dickens knew this tavern well, as he knew all the queer places in London; and those which took his fancy have a cer
As for the Black Jack, I have long been
This destruction of the old place, indeed, convinced that it is the original—the name
Inn, whither he was followed and found by Mr. Pickwick at supper: it rejoicing, he tells us, "in the double advantage of being in the vicinity of Clare Market and back of New Inn." It was convenient, too, in old times, to the theater in Lincoln's Inn Fields, the actors of which did much frequent it; among whom their low comedian, Joe Miller, was always found. The artists of the last century also made it a rendezvous, and the paintings they sketched on its walls are still traceable, albeit besmeared and bedimmed by the hand of time. One other distinguished name is connected with this old tavern: no less a one than that of Jack Sheppard. Indeed, it was long known-is still sometimes spoken of as "The Jump," from the leap taken by that exemplary youth out of its first-floor window in trying to escape arrest by the emissaries of Jonathan Wild, thief and thief-catcher. It is a low story that of the inn's first floor, I mean-and the jump was but a poor little one: yet of such trifles is history made!
its front is needed to tell us when we have found it. As we search through Bevis Marks for the house of Mr. Sampson Brass,which, in order to have just the right one, Dickens had spent a morning in selecting, as he wrote to Forster,-it is with an unshakable certainty, spite of all the changes in the street, that we fix on it; there is no
* It may here be explained to the American reader that "the City," as used in England, means only that portion of London which stretches easterly from Chancery Lane and the Temple to the Minories and Tower Hill, its northern limit being Holborn and the line of the old London Wall, with the Thames on its southern border. Temple Bar formed one of the entrances to "the City," through which royalty was never permitted to pass without the permission of rights. Old Holborn Bars, nearly in front of Staple the city authorities,-a remnant of the old municipal Inn, marked another of "the City" boundaries. This ancient relic was burned in 1867, and Temple Bar has now been carted away. "The City" is, in fact, the heart of "the City," in every sense. the capital of London, and the Bank of England is Business men go to "the City," instead of "down town"; and "a City man means one in trade.
other house there that will content our imagination, which, fired by familiarity with the scene, traces its well-known lineaments:-the office window, with its thread-bare green curtains all awry; its sill just above the two steps which lead from the sidewalk to the office floor, so that Quilp had no trouble in climbing upon it and looking in, as was his delightful way, and "so close to the foot-way that the passenger who takes the wall brushes the dim glass with his coatsleeve, much to its improvement, for it is very dirty." We seem to hear Sampson's eloquence as he laments over Kit's perfidy: "And this is the world that turns upon its own axis, and has Lunar influences, and revolutions round Heavenly Bodies, and various games of that sort!" We seem to see the festive Swiveller snatch the faded brown turban from Sally's head, and with it dust the dirty panes; we seem to see the Single Gentleman half-way out the first-floor window, looking eagerly for the Punch-andJudy which is coming around the corner; and from out the low, barred basement window, just coming above ground, peeps the peaked, wistful, unwashed face of the Marchioness. They are all there to our vision; as real as the queer foreign faces in the windows of the new Portuguese or something Refuge opposite, or as the Israelites, pushing by on their way to Houndsditch and Petticoat Lane.
If we follow them into Houndsditch, and so on through that street oddly named the Minories, we shall come out on Tower Hill, where-hard by the "genial Tower" of Artemus Ward-lived Mr. Daniel Quilp. I once fancied that I had fixed on his dwelling amid that row of delightfully ancient and quaint houses facing Trinity House and Trinity Square; but as this bit of identification was not wholly unconnected with a glimpse vouchsafed me at that moment, for my merits, of an extremely pretty face and figure in the window of the drawing-room, bringing up a vision of Quilp's charming little wife "in her bower," I cannot deny that it is lacking somewhat in value. But, indeed, Quilp's home is necessarily as unreal and as fantastic in its outlines as was Quilp himself. His wharf and lumber-yard were on the Surrey side of the Thames, his crossing to which, in a wherry, gave Dickens occasion to introduce one of the most vivid of his many descriptions of the river. Since Quilp's untimely death by drowning, and the destruction of his lumber-yard by fire on the same night, the
business has fallen to his heirs, who have removed it farther up the river, where it is to be found, much enlarged and flourishing, at the end of Vauxhall Bridge, on the Middlesex side. I never fail, when crossing the bridge, either alone or with Eugene Wrayburn, to stop, and, leaning over the parapet, to gaze and take delight in the goodly show of queer figure-heads, new and trim or worn and battered, like that of Kit, and in all the odd old lumber, with which the yard is. piled. But I was never anxious to ascertain, by personal investigation,-no more than was Mr. Sampson Brass himself,whether Quilp's dog, "who lived on the right-hand side, but sometimes hid on the left, ready for a spring," has been carried to this new yard.
The crazy water-side tavern called "The Wilderness," wherein it was Quilp's malicious delight to entertain his friends, may, by diligent search, still be found. There are yet left a very few specimens of this moist house of entertainment, with which the Surrey shore of the river used to be dotted, "surrounded on three sides by mud and standing on rotten piles of timber, and its front always unwashed," in the words of Mr. Sala; yet, either in "Tumble-down Dick's," or in "Tom Tug's Head,"-perfect types they are,-I can still see Quilp gulping down raw gin, even to Swiveller's amazement, and chuckling fiendishly over the damp discomfort of that sweet pair, Sally and Sampson!
Come back into Holborn with me. Near its upper end, where it merges into New Oxford street, we turn into a streeta short and dirty street of mean buildings, but famed forever in history; for this is Kingsgate street, the abode of Mrs. Gamp. We pause for a while at this corner, before approaching the shrine-we pause, not to see in memory the scene which here took place on the 8th of March, 1668-'9, when King Charles II., the Duke of York, the Duke of Monmouth, and Prince Rupert, all riding by in one coach, were upset at
the corner of Holborn and Kingsgate street, and, in Pepys's words, "the King all dirt, but no hurt," the good gossip not considering the smaller fry worth noticing. It is with less exalted personages that this corner is peopled to us. Bailey, Jr., is here displaying himself, in the gorgeous new livery of Tigg Montague, to the awe-stricken gaze of Poll Sweedlepipe, going for that purpose "round and round in circles on the pavement, rather to the inconvenience of the
passengers generally, who were not in an equal state of spirits with himself."
bow-chairs and the pile of bandboxes, not one of them having a whole bottom! The impatient and bewildered husband, plunging precipitately up the narrow stairs, past Poll's rabbit-hutches and bird-cages into this swarming bower, could be guaranteed an exceedingly lively quart d'heure, there is no doubt!
Kingsgate street is still, as it was then, a street of mean shops and petty industries, among which are many penny barbers. We search among their signs, "Easy Shaving, id.," until, at the end of the street, we find Poll's own shabby little shop. There are no birds nor rabbits there any more, only the scanty outfit of a cheap shaving-shop, presided over by a dejected barber, whose absurdly exaggerated and gayly striped pole, even, cannot convince us that shop or shaver ever drew the line anywhere, even at coal-heavers ! But above, in the first-floor front, we still can see that historic window which was "easily assailable at night by pebbles, walking-less and unashamed joy in gazing on them sticks, and fragments of tobacco-pipes, all much more efficacious than the street-door knocker, which was so constructed as to wake the street with ease and even spread alarms of fire in Holborn, without making the smallest impression on the premises to which it was addressed!"
In this room was uttered that precept, fit to be written among the eternal verities for the rightful guidance of life: "Betsy, drink fair, wotever you do"; and these walls echoed to those memorable words from the lips of Mrs. Prig: "Bother Mrs. Harris! I don't believe there's no sich a person!" There in that window you shall see to-day the very flower-pots-I confess to an art
among which Mr. Pecksniff rattled with the driver's whip on a memorable occasion, thereby awakening an interest in the bosoms of the ladies of the neighborhood, who, in shrill tones, and all at once, proclaimed it greatly to his credit that he looked
The well-regulated mind will find an hilarious interest, not unmingled with veneration, in the contemplation of this window, for it looks in upon that apartment, not too spacious, but crowded with many memories, and sacred to "Sairey's" special snuffyness and fluffyness. There stands the great tent bedstead, its sacking bulging down in the middle, so that her "box" can be pushed but partly underneath, thus projecting into the crowded room in a way not only to injure the legs of the hurried visitor, but to do violence to his reason. There are the wooden pippins, strung from post to post, and falling at the slightest provocation on the head of that flurried visitor, who is, at the same time, struck dumb by the sight of those rusty vestments adorning the posts in default of wardrobe or closet, and so retaining the peculiar copiousness of form of their owner that, in the twilight or early morning, they gave the impression that she herself was hanging there. One breathless husband, indeed, had been known to say afterward that they looked like "guardian angels, watching of her in her sleep." But that was "his First," and he never repeated the sentiment, though often the visit! There stands the dwarfish chest of drawers, all their handles gone, so that they had to be opened all at once by tilting forward, or singly, each with a knife, like an oyster; while the rest of the space is filled with the two sprawling old el
as pale as a muffin "; until, finding he was on a mission quite alien to their thoughts and hopes, they reviled the misguided messenger with equal volubility for "terrifying of delicate females with his corpses." To this very day-it was Mr. Hassard's experience, as well as mine before, and that of others since
there is shown a solicitude by the whole street of slatternly women in the movements of the casual visitor who stands staring at this window, so ludicrous in its suggestion as to drive him-should he be a decorous and timorous bachelor-abashed, back to Holborn.
Through the square, and up the stairs, a-turnin' round by the tobacker shop," is Mrs. Gamp's formula for finding the residence of Mrs. Harris; but, with all my desire to discover whether that estimable woman meant Bloomsbury or Red Lion Square, I have always, since the doubts cast on the existence of Mrs. Harris by malignant spirits, shrunk from further harrowing Sairey's sensitive soul by a suspicious search for her friend's dwelling-place; it shall forever abide for us in the airy realms of imagination.
We will to-day follow Poll Sweedlepipe and Bailey, Jr., down Holborn to the Bull Inn, where they are going to catch a glimpse of Lewsome, when he comes out to start for the country with John Westlock. We take great delight, as we walk behind them, in the "bragien boldness of that imperent young sparrow," and in meek old Poll's