« AnkstesnisTęsti »
since the calamity, and he hoped it was the other set of cousins, that there was a peculiar presage of better things. It was, in reality, only Hamblin face, common to all—“ but you are the listing of the clouds for a brief moment. wonderfully like your grandmother, the Señora,
Stephen had never shown himself more kind- just as Stephen is.” ly, more thoughtful, more sympathetic, than on At this moment the door flew open, and this occasion. Alison wondered how they had young Nick appeared, his hands in his pockets, all come to overlook these fine qualities of geni- his cheeks Alushed, tears standing in his eyes. ality and tenderness. They accounted fully, she “What is the matter, my boy?” cried his concluded, for her father's steady affection for mother. I thought you were with your uncle him. By what sad accident was it that the Stephen.” cousins regarded the Black Hamblin, and had “He is not my uncle; I will never call him taught her to regard him, with so much dislike by that name again !” cried the boy, bursting and suspicion? What was it in him, what had into tears. “ He is only a first cousin once rehe done, that her father should so often have moved." been rendered moody for days together? Why, “Why--" this spendthrift, this prodigal, this man who was “First cousin, once removed,” he repeated ; the Awful Example quoted by Aunt Flora to “let him be proud of that, if he likes. Never young Nicolas in a solemn warning, was a de- mind, mother. I'll be even with him.” lightful companion, full of anecdote, of ready The prospect of retributive justice pleased sympathy, quick to feel, of kind heart, and wide the boy so much that he instantly mopped up experience. Occasionally something was said his tears, and, though he sat in a corner with an which jarred. That, however, was due, no doubt, assumption of resentment, he had really resumed to his inexperience of the calm, domestic life. his cheerfulness.
Thinking thus, while Stephen talked, Alison In fact, Stephen, after the ladies left him, did caught the eyes of young Nick, who blushed im- not observe that Nicolas remained behind, and mediately with an unwonted confusion. They was seated beside the fire with a plate of prewere both thinking the same things.
served ginger before him. Stephen, with his Mrs. Cridland was not so ready to accept the shoulder turned to the boy, and thinking himself new aspect of things without suspicion. She alone, began to meditate. His meditations led naturally reserved her opinions until they were in him, presumably, into irritating grooves, for presthe drawing-room.
ently he brought his fist down upon the table “Stephen,” she said, when arrived there, with a loud and emphatic “D-n!” “ reminds me of what he used to be five-and- Young Nick had just finished his preserved twenty years ago, when he wanted to get any- ginger, and was considering what topic would be thing out of his mother. Poor soul! he would best to begin upon with this genial successor of cajole and caress her until she gave it him, and Uncle Anthony, when the ejaculation startled then he was away at once and back to his profli- him. gate courses in town. A heartless and wicked • Birds in their little nests agree,' said the boy!”
boy, softly, “to do without the wicked D." My dear auntie,” Alison expostulated, Stephen turned round sharply. surely we ought to forget old stories if we can. What the devil," he cried, springing to his I suppose my uncle is no longer what you say he feet, “ do you mean by watching me? Go away; was."
go to your mother; get out, I say !” “I don't know, my dear,” said her aunt, The injunction, being enforced by a box on sharply. “We never inquired into Stephen's the ear, left no room for doubt; and Nicolas, private life after his mother died. He may be outraged, insulted, and humiliated, retreated, as repentant, but I doubt it.”
we have seen, to a place where he could revolve “ Perhaps," said Alison, “every one was hard a stroke of revenge. But his confidence in Steupon him for the follies of his youth.”
phen Hamblin was rudely destroyed, and it never "I do not know whether they were unduly returned. hard upon him. He caused them terrible anxie- Stephen, with bland smile, presently apty. However, that is all over. Let us, as you peared, and asked for a cup of tea. He took no say, forget it.
What a strange thing it is, child, notice of the boy, who turned his back, and prethat you are so like him! Sometimes, when I tended to be absorbed in a book. He was consee you side by side, it seems as if you are more sidering whether cobbler's wax, popguns, powder like Stephen than your poor father. You have in tobacco, apple-pię beds, nettle-beds, watered the Hamblin face, of course—we all have that ” beds, detonating powders, booby-traps, deceptive -it was a theory among the cousins, who per- telegrams, alarming letters, or anonymous posthaps no more resembled each other than any card libels would give him the readiest and most
complete revenge, and his enemy the greatest “Of course-of course. At the same time, annoyance.
you may give me those I. O. U.'s." His indignation was very great when, his cup He exchanged a bundle of childish letters for of tea finished, Stephen invited Alison to go with a roll, docketed and endorsed, which Alison gave him to the study.
him. “Like him," he cried, when the door was He opened the packet with a curious smile. shut.—"Old lady, it's clear that you and me will “ Ah!” he said, “twenty years old.” He have to pack up. You think this house big rapidly selected those which bore his own name, enough to hold Stephen the First Cousin once and placed them aside. These are a form of removed—bah Kand you and me, do you? receipt. I see your cousin Alderney Codd's That's your greenness. Mark my words. Bunk name among them. He was one of those who it is!"
abused your father's kindness shamelessly, I “ Nicolas, dear, pray do not use those vulgar think.” words. At the same time, if I only knew how Presently Stephen grew tired of sorting the far Stephen is sincere"
papers. He leaned back in his chair, sighed, and The words were wrung out of the poor lady asked if he might take a cigar without Alison by anxiety on her own account, and not from the running away. She explained that her father had habit of discussing delicate affairs with her only always smoked a cigar in the evening. son. Nicolas, indeed, could not know that his Then they drew chairs to the fire—it had been mother's only income had been that granted her a cold day of east wind—and sat opposite each by Anthony Hamblin for acting as housekeeper, other below the portrait of the Señora. And duenna, companion, and first lady of the estab- they were both so like her! Alison thought her lishment for Alison his daughter. And as yet grandmother's eyes were resting sadly on Steshe did not know, and was still prayerfully con- phen. sidering, the possible limitations of the new guar- “ Did Anthony, your father," asked Stephen, dian's powers.
after a pretty long silence, “ever speak to you
about his testamentary dispositions?" "I am going to ask you, Alison,” said Ste- “No, never." phen, “ to assist me in going through some of “He never told you of his intention as reyour father's letters and papers. We must do gards myself—you know that it was always init, and it will save me the feeling of-of-prying tended that the injury done me under my father's into things if you will help me with the letters. will should be repaired by Anthony." Not to-night, you know. It will take several “I did not know,” said Alison ; “but I supdays to go through them all.”
pose that my cousin Augustus knows." Alison acceded, and Stephen began opening “ There seems to have been no will, so that the drawers and desks and taking out the papers, the carrying out of your father's wishes "—Steto show her the nature of the task before them. phen said this carelessly, as if there could be no
A man of fifty, if he be of methodical habits, doubt what they were—“ will devolve entirely has accumulated a tolerable pile of papers, of all upon you. Fortunately, I have a note, somekinds. A City man's papers are generally a col- where, of his proposed intentions." lection of records connected with money. An- It was an inspiration, and he immediately bethony Hamblin was no exception to the rule. He gan to consider how much he might ask for. had kept diaries, journals, bills, and receipts with Of course my father's wishes will be law to that thoughtfulness which belongs especially to me,” Alison said, with a little break in her voice. rich men. They have already made their money, · Naturally,” Stephen replied, with solemnity. they know what it is worth, they are careful not “You know, I suppose, something of the fortune to lose it, and they are determined to get good which you will inherit ?” value for it if they can. Men who are still piling · No, I have never asked." up the dollars are much less careful. The bulk I know"-Stephen had pondered over it for of the papers consisted of such documents. Be- years; “the personalty will be sworn under two sides them, there were bundles of Alison's let- hundred and fifty thousand pounds. The real ters.
property consists of the little estate in Sussex, " Alison,” said Stephen, softly, “ here are your this house and garden, and a few other houses. early letters tied up. Take them. It would be Then there are the pictures, furniture, books, and like prying into your little secrets to read them.” collections : you are a very fortunate girl. If I She laughed, and then sighed.
had all the money—” He stopped and hesitated. “ Here are more bills," she said, “and here "If I had had it twenty years ago, when Alderare papers marked ‘I. O. U. As for my letters, ney Codd and I were young fools together, I dare anybody might read them."
say it would have gone on the turf, or in lansqueVOL. VII.-4
net, baccarat, and hazard. A very good thing, changed. The light had gone out of his eyes; Alison, that the fortune went to the steady one.” they were hard; his voice was harsh and grat
He laughed and tossed his head with so ge- ing; his manner was constrained. nial and careless a grace that Alison's heart was “I have kept you too long over business deentirely won. She put out her hand timidly, and tails,” he said, rising and holding out his hand. took his.
Good night, Alison. If I find any documents “ Dear Uncle Stephen,” she said, “ he did not that will interest you, I will set them aside. see enough of you in the old days. We were Take your own letters. I shall learn nothing somehow estranged. You did not let us know from them, that is very certain.” you. Promise me that you will relieve me of It was the old, harsh, ungracious Stephen some part of this great load of money."
Hamblin whom she had always known. What “Poor Alison !” Stephen replied, blowing a was the matter with him? beautiful horizontal circle of blue smoke into the When Anthony, ten years before, brought air, “you overrate the spending capacities of your home with him unexpectedly, and without prefortune. They are great, but not inexhaustible. paring anybody's mind for such an apparition, a Still I am not above helping you, provided my little girl whom he introduced as his daughter, demands fall well within your father's expressed there was no one more surprised than Stephen, intentions.”
or more disgusted. He had regarded himself as What could be more honorable than this ? the heir to the Hamblin estates and wealth. He and who was to know that Stephen was at the had pleased his selfish spirit in imagining himself very moment considering at what figure he could the successor: only one life between himself and put those intentions ?
this great fortune. His brother was eight years Then he changed the subject.
his senior. He might drop off any day, though “I hope," he said softly, “that we may find it is not usual for men in their forties to drop off something among all these papers that will tell suddenly. Still it was on the cards, and Stephen us of your mother."
Hamblin was by no means above desiring the “My father never spoke of her,” said Alison. death of any man who stood between himself “ It seems hard that I am never to know any- and the sun. And then came this girl, this unthing about my own mother and her relations- looked-for, inopportune girl, with the ungrateful not even to know when and how she died.” assurance that Anthony was a widower, and this
" It is hard," replied Stephen. And your was his child. It was not in nature that such a father never spoke of her, not even to you?” man should receive in a spirit of meekness such
“Never, except once, when he warned me a blow. Stephen hated the girl. As he grew solemnly that I must never speak of her.” older, and became, through his own wasteful
" It is very strange!" Stephen sat up and ness, entirely dependent on his brother, he hated laid aside his cigar. “Tell me your earliest rec- her more and more, daily saying to himself that ollections, Alison. Let us see if something can if it had not been for her he would have been not be made out."
the heir. Yet he might have known that no in“I remember," said the girl, “the sea, and surance company, which could have got at the Brighton, and Mrs. Duncombe. Nobody ever facts, would consider his life as so good as his came to see me except papa. We knew no one. brother's, although there were eight years beMrs. Duncombe did not tell me anything except tween them. that my mother was dead. Then, when I was At first he accepted Anthony's statement. ten years of age, papa came and took me away." The girl was his child ; his wife was dead: no “Why did he hide you so long ?”
use asking any more questions. There was no“I did not ask him. I was too happy to be thing left but to sulk. with him always. Yes, he said that he could not Then suspicions awakened in his mind. Who get on without me any longer. That made me
was the girl's mother? When had Anthony happier still."
married her? "I see," Stephen answered, reflectively. “Of He had encouraged these suspicions, and course it did. Naturally. But it made you no brooded over them, until they assumed in his wiser."
mind almost the shape and distinct outline of “I suppose papa had a reason. I have some- certainty. He was wronged and cheated by his times thought that he must have married be- brother, because, he declared to himself, his neath him, and that he did not wish me to know brother could never have been married at all. my mother's relations.”
Such a man could never have had such a secret. “Yes; that is possible.”
But time passed on, and he forgot his old susHe mused in silence for a while, and pres- picions. At his brother's death they did not at ently lifted his head. Somehow his face was first return.
He belonged, by nature, to the fine old order boy. Alderney Codd may come to see me, now of murdering uncles. He could have been a and then. None of the rest. Flora Cridland rival Richard III.; yet the softening touch of and her pink and white brat may go to the devil. civilization prevented him from so disposing of And as for Alison, I suppose I shall have to his niece. Then the partners' proposal seemed make her an allowance. Yes. I will certainly to offer some sort of compromise; and he thought make her an allowance.” he would arrange with his niece, on her coming He felt so virtuous as he made this resolution of age, for some solid grant, “in accordance with that he became thirsty again, and proceeded no her father's expressed intentions.” Plenty of time further until he had taken off the greater portion to put them on paper. Plenty of time.
of a second soda-and-brandy. Now, the old dream came back to him. It Then he sat down and resumed his dream. returned suddenly. The talk with Alison revived “Yes. Alison shall have an allowance. The it. He lay back in his easy-chair when she was world shall not say that I am stingy, and treat gone, and gave the reins to a vigorous imagina- her badly. How much? I should say five tion. He saw, in his dream, the girl dispossessed, hundred a year, paid quarterly, would well because her father was never married : he saw meet the case. Just what they propose to give her taken away by some newly-found relations, me.” quite common people who let lodgings, say, at He thought a little over this, because it was Ford or Hackney. And he saw himself in actual an important thing to decide, and drank more possession : a rich man, with the way of life still brandy-and-soda. stretching far before him.
“ These cigars of Anthony's are quite the “Forty-five,” he said, “is the true time for best I ever smoked,” he said. “I shall not sell enjoyment. Hang it! we take our Aling too them. Nor the wine. Nor the brandy, by early; if we only knew, we should reserve our- Jove !" He filled another glass of brandy-andselves till five-and-thirty at earliest. Why do soda. “Five hundred a year is too much, altothey let the young fellows of one-and-twenty gether too much for a girl in such a position. I fling themselves away, waste, and spend, get rid think anybody will say I have done the thing of their money and their health, before they know handsomely if I make it three. Yes, three hunwhat pleasure means? One must be forty be- dred a year will be an ample—a generous allowfore the full flavor comes into the cup of life. I ance.” shall enjoy-I shall commit no excesses, but I Then he went on thinking and drinking al
ternately. The dream was the most delicious “I suppose I shall be senior partner in the flight of fancy he had ever essayed. house. Well, I will stay there long enough to “Three hundred ?" he murmured sweetly. sack those respectable Christians, my cousins. “ Too much. It would only tempt adventurers They shall go out into the cold, where they sent on the lookout for a girl with money. What
she requires is to have her actual wants supHe helped himself to a soda-and-brandy, and plied. And that,” he said with firmness, “is took a fresh cigar. His imagination still flowed what Alison, poor girl! shall have from me. along in a rich and copious stream. As for Her position is certainly not her own fault. A this house, I shall sell it up. What is the good hundred pounds a year. Two pounds a week! of such a house to me? Pictures, bric-à-brac, Why, it means more than three thousand pounds water-colors, engravings, plate-I shall get rid at three per cent. Three thousand pounds! of all. I want nothing but my set of chambers Quite a large slice out of the cake. A really in Pall Mall, with a private hansom and a smart handsome sum.”
(To be continued.)
THE "HE thoughts I am about to set down are not himself to a high calling; the living page of hu
my thoughts, for, as my friends say, I have man life has been his favorite, and indeed, for gived up the practice of thinking, or it may be, these many years, his only reading. And for this as my enemies say, I never had it. They are the he has had exceptional opportunities. Always a thoughts of an acquaintance who thinks for me. man of wealth and leisure, he has never wasted I call him an acquaintance, though I pass as himself in that superficial observation which is much of my time with him as with my nearest the only harvest of foreign travel. He despises and dearest; perhaps at the club, perhaps at the it, and in relation to travelers is wont to quote office, perhaps in metaphysical discussion, per- the famous parallel of the copper wire, “which haps at billiards—what does it matter? Thou- grows the narrower by going farther.” A consands of men in town have such acquaintances, infirmed stay-at-home, he has mingled much in whose company they spend, by necessity or cus- society of all sorts, and exercised a keen but tom, half the sum of their lives. It is not rational. quite unsympathetic observation. His very redoubtless; but then “Consider, sir," said the great serve in company (though, when he catches you talking philosopher, “should we become purely alone, he is a button-holder of great tenacity) rational, how our friendships would be cut off
. encourages free speech in others; they have no We form many such with bad men because they more reticence in his presence than if he were have agreeable qualities, or may be useful to us. the butler. He has belonged to no cliques, and We form many such by mistake, imagining peo- thereby escaped the greatest peril which can beple to be different from what they really are.” set the student of human nature. A man of And he goes on complacently to observe that we genius, indeed, in these days is almost certain, shall either have the satisfaction of meeting these sooner or later, to become the center of a mutual gentlemen in a future state, or be satisfied with- 'admiration society; but the person I have in my out meeting them.
mind is no genius, nor anything like one, and he For my part, I do not feel that the scheme thanks Heaven for it. To an opinion of his own of future happiness, which ought by rights to be he does not pretend, but his views upon the in preparation for me, will be at all interfered opinions of other people he believes to be infalwith by my not meeting again the man I have in lible. I have called him dogmatic, but that does my mind. To have seen him in the flesh is suffi- not at all express the absolute certainty with cient for me. In the spirit I can not imagine which he delivers judgment. "I know no more,” him; the consideration is too subtile; for, unlike he says, “about the problems of human life than “the little man who had (for certain) a little you do" (taking me as an illustration of the lowest soul,” I don't believe he has a soul at all. prevailing ignorance), “but I know what every
He is middle-aged, rich, lethargic, senten- body is thinking about.” He is didactic, and tious, dogmatic, and, in short, is the quintessence therefore often dull, and will eventually, no doubt, of the commonplace. I need not say, therefore, become one of the greatest bores in Great Britain. that he is credited by the world with unlimited At present, however, he is worth knowing; and common sense. And for once the world is right. I propose to myself to be his Boswell, and to He has nothing original about him, save so much introduce him—or, at least, his views—to other of sin as he may have inherited from our first people. I have entitled them the Midway Inn, parents; there is no more at the back of him partly from my own inveterate habit of storythan at the back of a looking-glass-indeed less, telling, but chiefly from an image of his own, by for he has not a grain of quicksilver; but, like which he once described to me, in his fine egotisthe looking-glass, he reflects. Having nothing tic, rolling style, the position he seems to himself else to do, he hangs, as it were, on the wall of to occupy in the world. the world, and mirrors it for me as it unconsciously passes by him-not, however, as in a When I was a boy, he said (which I don't glass darkly, but with singular clearness. His believe he ever was), I had a long journey to vision is never disturbed by passion or prejudice; take between home and school. Exactly midhe has no enthusiasm and no illusions. Nor do way there was a hill with an Inn upon it, at I believe he has ever had any. If the noblest which we changed horses. It was a point to study of mankind is man, my friend has devoted which I looked forward with very different feel