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class, descending from the intellectual heights to which she had, in various instances, attained. We next find Miss Martineau employed in the compilation of three "Guides to Service," entitled, "The Maid of All-work," "The Housemaid," "The Lady's Maid," which she followed up by a fourth, called "The Dressmaker," containing technical aids for those who followed that occupation. Her first novel, "Deerbrook," com
in the course of which Miss Martineau brought forth her "Tra- | to Observe," in which she addresses herself to travellers as a ditions of Palestine," appears to have been an epoch in her mental history, whence we may date a loftier flight in her ambition and a more elevated tone in her writings. About the same time the intellectual strength of the authoress was displayed in three prize essays, published by the association of Unitarian Dissenters, to which denomination she belonged. Their titles were, "The Faith as unfolded by many Prophets," "Providence as manifested through Israel," and "The Essen-pleted in 1839, became the most popular of her works of fiction. tial Faith of the Universal Church." These, together with a tale entitled "Five Years of Youth," and contributions of various kinds to the Monthly Repository, formed Miss Martineau's literary occupation during the years 1830-31. Coincident with the above labors was the design so admirably carried out by her during three years under the designation of "Illustrations of Political Economy."
Having accidentally read "Mrs. Marcet's Conversations" on the subject, she discovered that she herself had unconsciously treated certain phases of it in tales called "The Rioters" and the "Turn Out." The reflection that other doctrines of the science were equally susceptible of narrative illustration in the way of fiction, led to the composition of a series of some four or five and twenty "Stories on Political Economy," which struggled into light through many difficulties and discouragements. The author above quoted thus writes in the English Cyclopædia:
"The reputation of Miss Martineau was in a great degree limited to a small circle, when she conceived the bold idea of publishing a monthly series of tales that should illustrate the leading docrtines of political economy. To the publishers of that day, the notion of what was deemed the most dry and difficult of studies being rendered amusing appeared little more than an absurdity. The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge unwisely rejected the proposition, for the sober and unimaginative majority of their committee shrank from truth severe in fairy fiction dress'd.' The Illustrations of Political Economy,' came out from the shop of a publisher in Paternoster row, little known beyond his Unitarian connections. Their immediate success showed how justly the authoress had estimated her powers. Independent of their value as expositions of great principles, some of these tales will always be read for their truthful pictures of life, and the ingenious construction of a story limited by its especial purpose."
It is needless to add that they have since become almost universally popular, and have been translated into the French, German, Spanish, Danish, Hungarian and other languages. These tales embodied so many delicate yet powerful delineations of character, and exhibited such varied and vivid interest in the conduct of their plots, as raised their author to a very high place amongst imaginative writers of the age, and besides, offered many attractions to readers who would have been well content to remain ignorant of the mysteries of political economy if they had been forced to seek them and search them out by a painful study of abstruse philosophical treatises. The "Illustrations of Taxation," and "Poor Laws and Paupers," which succeeded, consisted, the former of six tales, the latter of four, written on a similar plan.
"The Hour and the Man," which succeeded it, and which had for its hero Toussaint l'Ouverture, has also passed through three editions.
Before this time, Miss Martineau's health had become seriously impaired, and, after completing a beautiful series of tales for children, entitled "The Playfellow," which included "The Settlers at Home," "The Peasant and the Prince," "Feats on the Fiord," and the "Crofton Boys," she was compelled, by rapidly increasing illness, to lay aside for a season the pen which she had wielded so long and so successfully. The offer of a pension, proposed to her by the English government in 1832, and subsequently, was now repeated to her by Lord Melbourne in the kindest terms of sympathy. But once more it was declined by Miss Martineau, under a feeling that she could not conscientiously share in the proceeds of a system of taxation which she had publicly reprobated in her works.
From the summer of 1839 to that of 1844 she was an invalid; after the first two years she was confined wholly to the sofa, enduring continued suffering only by the help of opiates; susceptible of no outward pleasure but that of overlooking a beauti'ul sea-view from the window of her sick room at Tynemouth, where this period of her life was passed. That it was not unfruitful of pure and deep experience to herself, and of a certain kind of wisdom touching and helpful to those who need its suggestions, we have token in a volume published during her illness in 1843, entitled "Life in the Sick Room."
Her recovery was attended by circumstances which have become a feature in Miss Martineau's history, and which were detailed by her at the time in the columns of the Athenaeum. All hope of re-establishing her health by ordinary means having been abandoned by her medical attendant, and being herself a believer in mesmerism upon testimony, she determined, at his suggestion, to make a trial of its curative powers. The effects are represented by herself to have been immediately beneficial, and the result of the experiment a perfect restoration of her mental and physical energies.
Of the former fact, at any rate, she gave evidence by resuming her pen with renewed vigor, and producing her "Forest and Game Law Tales," three volumes of striking and graphic stories, bearing on the character of those laws in ancient and modern times, and their effects upon the conduct of the classes for whom we wish we could say for whose benefit-they were more especially framed.
In addition to these, a single-volume tale called "The Billow and the Rock" proceeded from Miss Martineau's pen before her expedition to the East, undertaken in 1846 in company with Mr. and Mrs. Yates, of Liverpool. Her impressions of the scenes she passed through were portrayed with her usual vigor, two years afterwards, in "Eastern Life, Past and Present.' In 1851 appeared a volume in which her share was small as to bulk, though she avowed in the prefice that she was responsible for its publication. It consisted of "Letters" exchanged between herself and her friend, Mr. H. G. Atkinson, a philosophical student, "On the Laws of Man's Nature and Development."
In 1831 Miss Martineau visited America, where her writings had already secured for her many friends and admirers; and having applied her whole mind to the task of acquainting herself with the institutions of the United States, she published, in 1837, her "Society in Americ" a work in which, setting aside all personal detail, she discusses the politics, domestic economy, civilization and religion of the United States. The sagacity and candor which she brought to bear on this examination has been acknowledged in a measure by our critics, although the English authoress never hesitates to bear witness to such discrepancies as she observed between the principles and the practice' of our country. Her "Retrospect of Western Travel," which appeared a year later, comprised some details of those personal experiences of her tour which had been omitted from the more profound and elaborate work just men-land," which she did in the shape of her largest sub stantive tioned, and included some of the most distinct and characteristic portraitures of the illustrious personages of America which had ever been penned.
Shortly after this, Miss Martineau contributed to "Charles Knight's Shilling Series" a useful little volume called, "How
In this enterprise she disclosed that advance towards the principles of Positive Philosophy which was finally announced in 1853, by the issue of a condensed version of Comte's "Positive Philosophy," in two volumes, from her pen. During the preparation of these philosophical works, she was engaged for the first time on history, Mr. Charles Knight having engaged her to bring down to a very recent date his "History of Eng
work, well known under the title of "The History of England during the Thirty Years' Peace," a work which cost its author infinite labor, and which has been generally approved for its vigor and impartiality. One of her most popular works"Household Education," the early chapters of which first ap
peared in the People's Journal, was finding its own readers, it. To be sure it is! She's as thin as a hurdle. I'd rather be during these years; and the same may be said of her "Complete Guide to the Lakes," which was published in 1854, and soon superseded all other guide books for the counties of Westmoreland and Cumberland.
In the shape of leading articles, contributed to the columns of a London daily paper, aud of short social sketches in Once a Week, her writings have lately been most extensive and most successful. Indeed this has been for some time her almost daily occupation, and forms now her chief employment, in addition to her correspondence with a large and attached circle of literary and scientific friends.
Miss Martineau has resided since 1846 on her little farm near Ambleside, exciting the envy of local agriculturists by the practical success of her experiments, although ill health has prevented her for some years from ever leaving the house, or receiving the visits of strangers and tourists.
twice as stout as I am now, than a little mite-an atom. Thank goodness, I am something besides skin and bone! You fancy petite beauties - get your ideas from those interminable novels you're always devouring, where the heroines are milk and moonshine, and the heroes pale, interesting, poetical young gentlemen, that one never meets with in real life. I suppose you'd call Maria Chamberlain a beauty of that order. But the only thing I envy her is the fit of her ball and dinner dresses; and they are exquisite. But come, Addie! do, for mercy's sake, throw aside that book, and try on your dress! I want to see if that is spoilt, too."
A tall, slender girl, with long, light curls, and pale complexion, and altogether a listless, inane air-quite the opposite to her rosy, stout; black-eyed sister-rose slowly from her chair, drawn close to the fire, and laying her book down on the table, took up a dress of pale blue crape.
"La, Henrietta, I wish you wouldn't teaze one so! Here it
evening! I dare say my dress suits. Let Caroline alter yours; I know she can let it out. I must finish this volume before I dress, for I've just come to the most interesting portion, where the Count Rodolph--"
Within the last few years she has published the following pamhlets: "The Factory Controversy, a Warning against Med-is scarce three, and you're in a fever about dressing for the dling Legislation" (1855); “ Corporate Tradition and National Rights-Local Dues on Shipping" (1856); and "Endowed Schools in Ireland" (1859). She also is the author of a work entitled "British India" (8vo., 1851); "England and her Soldiers," a work on army reform (8vo., 1859); and of "Health, Husbandry and Handicraft" (8vo., 1861); the last-named of which is a collection of her contributions to Once a Week and to other serial publications.
OH, THEN BUT THINK OF ME!
WHEN fond friends cluster round thy hearth,
When hearts are closely knit to thine
When in the regal halls of wealth,
All Fashion's heartless band;
But in the saddening twilight,
When the pale stars softly shine,
THE COUNTRY COUSIN.
"DEAR me! was ever any one tormented so? I particularly told Madame Modiste to set my figure off and make a good fit; and here she sends me home a dress I cannot wear. It is full two inches too small! The dowdy!" And Henrietta Balfour spitefully tossed an elegant amber satin ball dress; she had been vainly endeavoring to bring together around a figure somewhat dumpy," half way across her room. "It's always the way. She never sent home a dress to me but it was half ruined with altering before I could wear it. I wish she was in the Red Sea! I'll warrant that elegant rose taffeta I saw her measuring Maria Chamberlain for won't be spoilt. Her dresses always fit to a nicety."
"But you know Maria Chamberlain's figure is perfect-slight, petile, out well-rounded; and you are getting more flesh every day,” said a languid voice from the depths of a large lounging chair.
"Nonsense, Addie!" retorted Henrietta in an angry tone. "Maria Chamberlain's figure is just what her dressmaker makes
"There! I don't wan't to hear a word about it!" exclaimed Henrietta. "I'm sick of novels-novels, from morning to night! If you choose to ruin your eyes with reading, and if you choose to tumble your clothes on, and hurry down to receive guests-I'm sure I don't care. You're always lagging. and you know it; but to-night, of all nights, I shall take pains with my toilet. No doubt but you'd make an impression on Ralph Balfour, if he could see you now in that old wrapper, and with your hair in that state! Remember, he has seen the most elegant ladies of Paris and Vienna, and mingled in the most aristocratic society of Homburg and Baden-Baden; and I am determined to show him that our soirées are the most elegant and fashionable here in Stockington. He used to fancy Maria Chamberlain; but I don't mean that shall be revived; for, to tell the truth, Addie, if there's any virtue in management, mamma and I have come to the conclusion that it wouldn't be wise to suffer Ralph-handsome, talented, and with such a fortune-to select a wife outside of the family. And so, when I was in at Harvey's and saw Maria ordering a new dress for our party, I immediately resolved to get something more elegant. Papa demurred, and protested he couldn't afford it; but mamma and I gained our point, as we always do. Mamma's such a capital manager! Papa vowed at first that the party itself would ruin him, but mamma carried the point, not only as to the party, but the dresses also. Yours is a sweet, delicate thing, quite suited to your style; but mine is such an exquisite shade! That hateful woman Modiste! I verily believe she intended to spoil it!" And Henrietta Balfour again took up the dress she had but a few moments previous thrown from her, her face crimson with vexation.
"Cousin Henrietta, perhaps I can alter the dress. I'm sure there is time before evening," said a slight, delicate, blueeyed girl, advancing from a window, where she had sat at her sewing.
"You here, Carrie! I thought you were in the nursery!" exclaimed Miss Balfour, crimsoning deeper with mortification. "But haven't I told you-and, if I haven't I do now-never to 'cousin' me again? Next thing, I shall have you coming into the drawing-room and proclaiming our relationship before company-thanks to papa's plan of adopting poor relations into our family! There! take the dress, and see what you can do with it! Be sure and don't fray the satin. I never had the knack of altering dresses." And with a scornful toss of her head, she turned away.
Caroline Lindsay gathered up the rich satin robe—a pɩinful flush of wounded feeling staining her delicate cheek-and turned to leave the room. On the threshold she paused, looking steadily into the haughty girl's face.
"What insolence!" said Henrietta with a hasty laugh. | Grisi's concert! Oh, there was such a love of a man in a pri"What business has she to reply? Just nothing but a beggar, I'm sure, if papa did give her a home."
Now, Henrietta, I'm sure I can't see why you don't let Carrie alone! I'm sure you contrive to make her very useful. She's always sewing and embroidering for you; and as for intruding herself in company, why nobody would know she was in the house." And Adelia sunk lazily again in her easy chair. "Oh, yes, Miss Philanthropy, you can afford to be generous!" sneered Henrietta. "I believe novel heroines are always poor, distressed damsels, who, at last, after innumerable persecutions, marry rich generous husbands. Perhaps you'd like to help Carrie to one of the most eligible men of our set? Now, I know better than that. I shall keep her out of the way. I opposed her coming here from the first; and papa had no business to take a poor relation into the family; but then he has such queer notions! We can't always keep her out of sight. Then the girl is pretty, and she knows it, too. Only the other night, Frank Chamberlain inquired 'Who that sweet-looking young girl was he'd seen taking the children cut;' and I was forced fairly to coin a story about a poor girl whom papa had given a home to. Next thing our gentlemen visitors will be sending up their cards to her."
"Well, neither you nor I can prevent it, as I see," languidly replied Adelia. "It would indeed be very romantic. Now, in this very volume, Alicia Rosalie Aubrey, the governess, is wooed and won by Lord Fitz Herbert; while the elegant Lady Clara-"
"There! don't, Addie! You're novel-crazy," exclaimed Henrietta, tartly. "I haven't the least doubt but, if Ralph Balfour himself should return from abroad, and take it into his head to fall violently in love with this little rustic, you'd quietly allow it, assist at the wedding, and perhaps write a novel about it yourself."
"Sister, I am a fatalist," simpered the pale Adelia, twining one of her long light curls over her slender finger. "I believe that the fabled sisters weave the web of our future; and it lies not in the power of mortal to change it. If cousin Ralph is fated to admire Carrie, I cannot alter it; though, I must say, I should like you to win him, Henrietta, for I know mamma has set her heart upon having him for a son-in-law; and no doubt it may prove so."
"Thank you! You're very kind, Addie; you would like me to have him,'" laughed Henrietta, sarcastically. "It may prove so. It will, you goose! What do you suppose I've been to so much trouble for in teasing papa for this party, dresses, &c.? I should be a simpleton to allow such a prize as Ralph to slip though my fingers. And I mean to succeed."
vate box just opposite ours! and he had such dark eyes, so deep and melancholy-I'm sure just like Count Alberti's!-and such wavy raven hair, and such splendid teeth! and such a magnificent seal ring on his little finger! and such a rapt air when Grisi sang so divinely from Norma—”
"Which, the seal ring or the wearer? I don't comprehend about this rapt air,' "' exclaimed Henrietta. "Oh, sister! how can you!" sighed Adelia, looking hurt. "You're so rude!"
"Oh, I beg pardon!” said Henrietta. "Go on, please. You left off with Grisi and Norma. How unfortunate I was absorbed in Frank Chamberlain just then! What followed ?''
Adelia saw nothing but a demure expression of curiosity on her sister's face, and she continued, "Well, I'm sure I couldn't resist the temptation of watching his pale, noble face; and it so chanced-"
"You mean it was so fated," interrupted Henrietta.
'Yes, it must have been so fated," resumed Adelia, “that, just as Grisi ceased, he turned, raised his opera-glass in the direction of our box, and his eyes met mine in one long, thrilling, soulful gaze. I think he must have been impressed, for he gave me such a distingué bow, then turned and whispered to Mr. Alfred Delavau, who sat beside him.”
"Humph, Alf Delavau's friend! Some adventurer, I suppose!" shrewdishly exclaimed Henrietta. "The Delavaus are nobodies, and Alf's associate's are nobodies, too."
"Why, sister, I'm sure Mr. Delavau has been received into the best society in Stockington since his uncle died and left him all that property," said Adelia, looking surprised.
Well, at the rate he goes on, he'll soon be excluded, for they say he's nearly spent his fortune; papa says he gambles," replied Henrietta. "And so your unknown was in his company?"
"Oh, but I'm sure he's not like Mr. Delavau !" urged the girl, "so sad-looking-almost grave-as if he'd known sorrow, and such a noble air! I was confident he must be some foreigner of rank. And when we were leaving the music-hall, in the vestibule some one touched my arm, and, turning, Mr. Delavau begged leave to introduce his friend, the Count Mattini, a celebrated Italian noble. I'll bring him to your party tomorrow night, Miss Adelia-he's a stranger in our town,' whispered Delavau. So, sister, you see I could but regard it all as a fatality, and shall meet him again to-night, and my heart foretells me that this is no common meeting."
"Well, I must say that, for one who expects to meet her fate before six hours, you are a remarkably self-possessed young lady," coolly retorted Henrietta. Why, for pity's sake, don't you be thinking of dressing-or do you believe that nonsense about beauty unadorned, adorned the most?' I wonder where "Aha! that conflicts somewhat with your doctrine of fatal- Monsieur Lefriseur, the hairdresser, can be? Mamma ordered ism," exclaimed Henrietta, in triumph. him to be here at half-past three."
"Well, sister, I hope you will," said Adelia. "You have heard that 'If a woman says she will, she will,' &c.
"No matter," replied Adelia, resignedly; "but I cannot conceive how you can plan these serious affairs so deliberately. To me, the thought of mixing the idea of love with a man's wealth and station is positively painful. Now, if I but found a congenial spirit combined with noble, manly beauty-"
Congenial fiddlesticks!" laughed the practical Henrietta. "Why, a suitor couldn't be 'congenial,' to my mind, unless he was able to keep up an establishment; and, as for 'manly beauty,' why, don't you know, you silly romancer, that gold, the world over, is better than the elixir of youth to keep one young and beautiful? Love in a cottage-rustic simplicity and happiness! Pshaw, Addie, you'd better fall in love with papa's new clerk he expects shortly- another of our horrid rustic cousins-coming to our taown,' no doubt, to make his fortin'.' That would be romantic! You could have a charming little cottage somewhere, and a fountain and a garden; and, after taking an afternoon siesta in the moss-hut, it would be an agreeable surprise to awaken with a huge gnat-bite on the tip of your nose."
"1 should ask that, girls," said a portly lady, fat, red and forty, entering the room at that moment. "I sent orders for him to attend at that hour, and it is now nearly four," she continued, glancing at the tiny French clock on the mantelpiece. "Henrietta, my love, the broad Grecian braids to-night, and that diamond bandeau; and Adelia, darling, the long curlsthey are particularly becoming to your style of pensive statuesque beauty, you know. I will ring for lunch; then dears, to your toilet." And Mrs. Balfour laid her hand on the bellpull. "Where's Caroline?" she added.
Busy up-stairs altering my dress," replied Henrietta; "that stupid Modiste made a misfit-too small."
"Ah! did she?" said Mrs. Balfour. "Well, you know you told her to make a tight fit. Henrietta, my dear, I'm afraid you're getting a trifle embonpoint. You must take more exercise. Caroline is getting to be decidedly useful; she's very handy with her needle to repair these little accidents. Adelia love, don't read any more, but try and get a nap in your chair before the evening, if you can without disarranging your hair. Ah! here is Monsieur Lefriseur himself. No; it is Mr. Balfour. What news, John, has Ralph arrived?" she asked, as John Balfour, the rich manufacturer and husband of the lady, entered the room with an open letter in his hand.
"No," replied her husband, a pale, harassed-looking man, with the air of one not quite so much at home in that elegant room
MERCANTILE NEW YORK
THE COTTON PLANT IN BLOOM.-PAGE 318.
as in his warehouse down town, where he had wrought, early and late, for thirty years, till his name stood among the magnates of Stockington. "No; I've just received a letter from London, and the vessel is not in yet, and the underwriters feel a little doubtful about her arrival to-day. She was due this morning; but the storm of the night before last must have met her in the Downs and blown her off. She'll possibly be in to-morrow. I'm sorry, after all your expectation, but-"
No matter about the buts, John Balfour," said the lady with much asperity, and the air of one whose authority was unquestionable in that stately mansion-and, by way of parenthesis, let us record that the dominant Mrs. B. always addressed her husband as "John Balfour." "If Ralph does not arrive, we can't help it; he can't get here unless the vessel makes the land, and he doesn't miss the train, that's certain; but it's shameful if it should happen so, after all our trouble to give this soirée to welcome him back to Stockington."
"You know I thought it would be better to wait a day or two, if you must-" ventured Mr. Balfour.
Oh, yes, you thought! No doubt you could foresee all this," retorted the lady. "I thought you didn't want us to give a party at all, John Balfour. But what's that open letter you've been fumbling in your hand ever since you came in? Any more bad news?""
"It is a letter from my brother. Charles writes that I might look for Allan to-day," returned the husband, with the tone of one aware he is imparting an unwelcome piece of information; "but he has not yet arrived, and-"
"And what, John Balfour? I can bear anything now! You expect him here in time for our party, I suppose?" sneered the lady.
I think it very probable he will be here to-night," replied John Balfour. "The trains are all delayed on account of her majesty's trip, and he may be late. You will please order a room to be in readiness for him, if he should arrive, Mrs. Balfour."
"No doubt but you'd like the best bedroom fitted up expressly for your brother Charles's son, John Balfour," began the lady; but her tirade was aimlessly directed-John Balfour had retreated.
"How shamefully mean!" exclaimed Henrietta, no longer restrained by her father's presence. "It never rains but it pours! It is not enough that Ralph fails us-Ralph, for whom we have so exerted ourselves, but this rustic must be forced on us to-night! Of course he won't have manners enough to keep out of the drawing-room, but will insist on proclaiming his relationship before everybody! Mamma, I hope you'll give Thomas instructions to show him to his room, and keep him there till to-morrow!"
relatives, I'll insure that they shan't disgrace the family Trust me for managing John Balfour! But here is James with the lunch; and afterwards, dress yourselves with care, my loves, for it is not impossible that Ralph may come, after all."
LATE that afternoon, when John Balfour had been gone a fuli hour from the warehouse to his elegant mansion, the express train from London arrived at the Stockington station, and a tall, handsome, foreign-looking young man of some twenty-five years called a fly, and bidding a porter lift his luggage upon the roof, gave orders to be driven to the Duke's Arms.
"I'll give them a surprise at uncle John's," he murmured to himself, while a smile lighted up all the countenance left unconcealed by his thick mufflers and travelling cloak. "I'll go up to the Duke's Arms and get thawed out, have a good dinner, wait till late in the evening, then have myself, goods and chattels, conveyed to their house. They'll have given me up before that. I wonder uncle John wasn't down here to welcome me! I suppose they'd given me up, though, till to-morrow, as the steamer was behind time, and they couldn't know that I landed at Dover."
Just as the last stroke of ten pealed out sharp and clear on the frosty air from the tower of St. Mary's, and while the tide of gaiety was at its full height, and the glare of gas intolerably bright in the elegant mansion where Mrs. Balfour and her daughters received their guests, a carriage deposited the same traveller at the door, while his two trunks were lifted into the hall.
"Mr. Balfour," he exclaimed from the muffling folds of his travelling cloak, drawn close about his face; "did they expect me to-night?" he said, addressing Thomas, the groom, who, dressed and gloved, was made to perform the duties of hall porter for the nonce.
"Yes, sir! I heerd missus say somethin' about expectin' you," replied Thomas, superciliously. "Jist come up-stairs, sir! But these trunks must be got out of the way. Suppose I take one," said he, ruefully surveying his white gloved hands; "here, sir, you jist take t'other after me, in quick time!" and that worthy personage lifted one of the trunks, leaving the owner standing beside the other in the hall.
At first Ralph Balfour's dark eye flashed, then an amused expression flitted over his well-formed lips.
"March of intellect!" he mentally ejaculated, his memory reverting to the respectful and well-trained servants he had seen abroad; but the light streamed broadly from the open doors, as well as from the gas in the hall, and, not wishing to be discovered by any inccming guest, or members of the family from within, he lightly caught up his trunk, and bounded up the staircase.
"Up here, sir!" cried Thomas from another and higher landing; and up another flight he bore his burden, and still another, passing on the second story a suite of rooms, through whose doors ajar he caught glimpses of ladies in moiré antique and jewels before the dressing-glasses, putting the finishing touch to their costume before they descended into the drawing
"Ah! a party! Got up in honor of my arrival!" solilo
quised Ralph, as the strains of music floated up from the drawing-room below. "Wish I'd stayed at the Duke's Arms in peace and quietness. Don't want to be shown up as a lion freshly imported." And he set down his trunk in a small, scantily furnished room, wherein Thomas had deposited its fellow. "By Jove! I think I had better have stayed at the hotel! These quarters are anything but inviting," he added, looking round the narrow room. "Suppose the house is full to-night though," he continued, excusingly, “or it's a mistake of Master Free-and-Easy." Turning to Thomas, he added, "Tell your master Mr. Balfour has arrived!"
But the man hesitated, seemingly unwilling to convey his errand. “If you please, sir," said he, and he drew himself up with an air of offended dignity, "missus said you'd be tired enough to go to bed, sir. If you feels the cravins of hunger, sir, I'm to tell cook to send up a tray into this room, as missus and the young ladies hold a swarry this evening; though they're mighty disappointed because young Mr. Ralph has not arrived in time for the party. But I must excuse myself, sir. Shall I send you up anything to eat, sir? Hope you'll enjoy a comfortable night's sleep, sir."
"Stop a moment! Who the deuce do you take me for?" asked Ralph of the retiring functionary.
"Why, I apprehends you're the master's new clerk, sir, 'the country relative,' as missus very affectionately called you, sir," replied Thomas, superciliously.
A twinkle lit the young man's eye. He comprehended all at once. "Well, I did come in rather late," he said, stifling a laugh, drawing closer the cloak, which he had not removed, about his face, and assuming the dialect of the North Midlands. "Perhaps 'twouldn't be purlite to go down to-night. You'll tell Aunt Henrietty how I'm tired ridin' in the train, and that I'll wait till mornin.' But I'm precious hungry, so bring us up summat to eat, and a mug of beer. But ah! look here," he added, "tell Aunt Henrietty that the express train from London was at the station when I left, and there were some gentlemen from abroad amongst the passengers, and 'tisn't impossible that cousin Ralph Balfour has arrived."
While Thomas made his speedy exit, the travelling cloak was dropped, and Ralph Balfour leaned back in his chair to give utterance to a laugh which, but for the swelling music of the band, might have been heard by the gathering in the rooms below.
Now it so chanced that the train which was to transport young Allan Balfour, "the country cousin," did not reach the station until two hours beyond its usual time, so that Allan was in some doubt whether to intrude upon his uncle's household "at that time o' night," or be driven to an inn.
"Fly, sir?-have a coach, sir?-any luggage?" urged the voluble body corporate, gesticulating violently from their stand behind the railing; and straightway the young man-who, we notice, possesses a good figure, intelligent countenance, and a fine dark eye-singles one from the score of importunate luggage-drivers, and, delivering up his luggage, is conducted to the carriage outside the station.
"Perhaps I'd better go to an inn," soliloquised the youth, "to the Terminus Hotel. John Anderson always stops there when he comes over to Stockington, to buy goods. It's late; uncle John's folks may be abed."
The driver, who had just tossed Allan's well-worn hair trunk that trunk wherein his mother had laid, with tears in her eyes, a little Bible between his nicely "done up" home-made shirts and socks; and down in one corner of which his sister Kate had carefully stowed a few dainty keepsakes-caught his passenger's soliloquy, uttered half aloud. "Verdant!" he muttered between his teeth. "Terminus Hotel, sir?" he asked.
"Well, if I thought uncle John's folks would be up-father wrote I should be here to-day-do you know Mr. John Balfour's house?"
"Yes, sir," said the man, his manner instantly changing. 'Well, he's my uncle. I will go there, though it's rather late," said Allan.
"No fear but they are up there," said Jehu, and he rattled his passenger along till he drew up before the brilliantly-lighted mansion.
"In here, Mr. Balfour-this way. The ladies have been ex
pectin' you all day. When master came home from the warehouse, he said the steamer wouldn't get in till mornin'. Ladies felt terribly disappointed. This way, sir," floated up to Ralph's ears with the notes of the music, as he stood leaning over the banisters in the upper gallery, whence he had emerged from his chamber. "Warm fire in the grate, sir. Hope the apartment feels comfortable; missus'll be delighted; has a party to-night; gave out invites ten days ago, sir, to welcome your arrival. Make yourself comfor'ble, Mr. Balfour. I'll give orders for James to wait upon you directly. Shall he bring up coffee or anything else, sir?" volubly exclaimed the bland Tnomas.
"I should like a cup of hot coffee," Ralph Balfour heard in reply, and a smile gathered about his lips; and when, after the lapse of five minutes-still keeping his station of sentinel from the upper landing of the circular staircase-he saw James retire, after bearing a silver tray into the room, he hastily descended, and tapped softly at the door.
A tall young man, with pleasing physiognomy, but clad in a suit of somewhat rustic fashion, and evidently not quite at home in that elegantly-appointed room, answered the sum
"I am Ralph Balfour," he said, entering, "and you are "Allan Balfour, from Wethersfield," was the reply. "And your father and mine-Charles and Joseph-were brothers, which of course makes us first cousins,' as grandmother would say. Let's shake hands on it." And Ralph smilingly extended his hand, which was as frankly accepted. "Now, then," continued Ralph, speaking hastily, you must excuse my unceremonious entrance, which I will account for in this wise. You have come hither to be uncle John's clerk. You see I know all about it, though I've been in this house. scarce half an hour longer than yourself.
"There's a curious mistake occurred-natural enough, perhaps, under the circumstances, yet none the less laughable; but, if we don't turn the laugh on them, then it's our own fault, cousin Allan. You see it's simply this: to-day I was expected home from the Continent, where I've been these two years; and you were also looked for by the railway. But the vessel did not arrive in London at the time she was due; hence they gave me up for to-night; but, as I landed at Dover, and travelled express all the way to Stockington, here I am.
"But they did expect you; and, on my arrival, that stupid Thomas, who doubtless had had his orders from my worthy aunt, investing me with your personality, took me up three or four flights into one of the servants' attics, I fancy, and took particular pains to impress on my mind the fact that my presence could be dispensed with below to-night. Half an hour after you arrived; and mark the difference! Ralph Balfour, scapegrace, who happens to have no particular virtues of his own, save the fact that he inherited from his poor dead and gone father the comfortable sum of some hundred thousand pounds, won in trade; and Allan Balfour, son of an honest, industrious country farmer, and who is willing to use his own head and hands to push his way through the world-forsooth, what a great gulf betwixt the two! An attic scantily furnished, and this elegant, luxurious bedroom! Ah, cousin Allan, don't flash your dark eyes so! Fact, but more's the pity, that gold is the special god of half the world; though I do think that trade and speculation have succeeded in raising the golden calf to the topmost niche in our social altar. Money makes aristocracy; money makes birth and breeding; money makes worth, honor and manliness; money converts a dowdy into 'an elegant, statuesque beauty'-a good-natured fellow, with no fault particularly, save a vacuum in his upper story, into a 'vewy foine' exquisite, whose lite passes in one long devotion to his necktie, and finally exhales into nonentity amid the delicate aroma of the jockey club; and money converts respectable John Smith, the grocer, into 'J. Smythe, Esq., the merchant prince.'
"But pardon this long tirade, cousin Allan! I've got a bit of a plan in my head by which you and I can read our purseproud aunt and cousins a wholesome lesson; for I'll warrant this is none of uncle John's doings." And a merry smile twinkled in Ralph's expressive eyes. "My plan is this-we exchange characters. You disguise yourself in a suit of my Parisian tailor's, a French wig and a set of whiskers, which I