Imágenes de páginas

The landlord approached the closet, looked about it as though possibly the box might still be in some corner ; then scratched his head; then with his thumb and finger felt the bolt of the lock, and then sagaciously observed; “ he was an old hand as did this. All the marks on it, sir ; all the marks on it.”

“A great consolation," answered Tangle, with a ghastly grin. “Well, Mr. Landlord, seeing yourself in this condition—what do you propose?” And the looks of the landlord answered—Nothing.

“You see, sir,” at length the Olive Branch made answer, " you see, sir, this is election time. Now there isn't a honester place in the world—though I was born in it, I must say it,--than Liquorish. But at election time, all sorts of villains come about us, as you must know. I don't see what you can do- Yes ; you can send the bellman round with a reward for the thief-and”

- Pooh, pooh, foolish man!” cried Folder, who then drew Tangle aside. “Don't you see, my dear sir, how such a step would damage us? Don't you see how it would serve the other party? Imagine! •Lost, a box of guineas from the Olive Branch !' Consider ; what squibs they 'd fire at us. They'd swear,—that is, they would insinuate,—that we had brought down the gold to bribe the electors.”

“That never struck me,” answered Tangle ; “'tis more than likely. Heaven help us! What's to be done ? Five-and-thirty years have I been in practice ; and never-never before such a blow. Stript, sir-stript,” he said, in a tone of maudlin sorrow“stript even of my 'bacco-stopper.”

At this moment, Doctor Gilead's carriage drove up to the door, and the footman entered the Olive Branch, bearing a letter for Mr. Folder. This arrival, coupled with the silence of Tangle, caused the landlord, landlady, boots, and chambermaid to quit the room; and they were speedily followed by others, some of whom said, “What a pity !” Some, “How very odd !” and some, “ It was very mysterious ; but doubtless time would show.”

“ My dear friend,” said Folder, having read the missive, “ it is a summons from his Lordship, who observes that we may as well blend breakfast with business. We've no time to lose.”

Tangle looked blankly at the floor-blankly at the ceiling. He then wailingly observed, “ That such a calamity should happen to me! To me, above all men in the world! How can I ever face his lordship!”

“My good friend, it's not so bad. The loss, heavy as it is,” said Folder, with a smile, “can't be ruin.”

“You're a kind comforter, Mr. Folder ; indeed you are," said Tangle, trying hard at a smile on his own account.

“For you're a rich man, Mr. Tangle ; a very rich man, and can make up the loss without--".

I make up the loss, Mr. Folder! I make-pardon me, my dear sir, you really speak in total ignorance of such matters. No, the gold being his lordship's—for his lordship's special use—if an accident has unfortunately happened to it-why, of course—"

“Well," replied Folder, catching the drift of Tangle, “ that you can settle with his lordship himself. In the mean time, we had better prepare for our visit. I shan't be five minutes—but you -you need a little preparation. Don't you shave this morning ?”

- Not for millions would I attempt it, Mr. Folder. In my state of mind, not for millions. I couldn't do it, sir-I couldn't so provoke fate. I tell you what I'll do I'll walk on : in my present condition, I'd rather walk. I shall find a barber in the village, and—I shall be at the hall as soon as you—tell his lordship quite as soon as you."

And Tangle with a wandering eye, and unsteady hand, sought and took his hat. He then ran from the chamber, and Mr. Folder retired to his own apartment.



It is the time of gentle thoughts and words,

When voices that make music in the ear,
(As do the love-notes of sweet-throated birds)

Are speaking the old welcomes, trite, yet dear :
And folk, made happy by their Christmas cheer,

Tell o'er the names of friends in by-gone times,
And sing old songs such as their sires did hear,

Until their carols mingle with the chimes.

At such a time thou comest, little book!

And find'st a welcome waiting everywhere :
The gorgeous chamber and the chimney nook,

The Spirit of thy leaves is asked to share,
As tho' he were a guest expected there,

And coming with an honoured kinsman's claim
Such a “ familiar face” he seems to wear-

And such a household word doth sound his name.



Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter.


TO THE EDITOR. I was prevented, Sir, as perhaps you may have heard say, from delivering a short address at the Manchester Atheneum meeting of the 24th ult. Not that I ever should have dreamed of putting myself forward on the occasion, had not some of my neighbours requested it: there being also members of my own family who are good enough to think that what I had to say was worth listening to. Most persons, even the humblest, have some who encourage and think well of them. When we came home that night from the party (with my speech unspoken) there were tragical faces in my house, I promise you. It was of little use to remind the discontented ones, that to hear me would have been no novelty to them--that some of us, even, knew parts of the oration by heart : one having copied it out thrice, with annotations and corrections. Wail they would, and I must needs listen. Therefore it is for the sake of family peace, not my own vanity, that I have acceded to their entreaties; and as you, Sir, they insist, were one of the causes which postponed indefinitely the arrival of the “ opportune moment” (as a female relation of mine phrases it), it is to you, they continue, I ought to communicate the fact; together with some particulars of the topics intended to be embraced on that very interesting occasion. In so doing, I beg you again to believe, that I am considering the feelings of others-not my own.

For will you credit it, Sir ?—the very subject on which I was desirous of speaking was the neglect of Genius—a fertile theme, though rarely, I must add, treated agreeably : though pow, it appears to me, of greater and more general interest than ever. For see how The People are writing The People's library! Here we have a man from the ranks, laid snugly up for his old age in Chelsea Hospital, who gets some one to put down what he remembers life in the ranks at war-time to have been-what he thought of Peninsular quarters—how he got on among the common people in


foreign parts—and when, and where, and how he caught a glimpse of Napoleon for himself; and, like every one else, friend or foe, felt a strange thrill at sight of the grey coat and the business-like-looking cocked hat. There, again, a lot of Leeds, and Nottingham, and Sherwood people, rallying about such true men as James Montgomery, or Ebenezer Elliot, or William Howitt, are setting themselves to describe the old walls, the dales, and the wood-openings of their own neighbourhoods,—till localities which I doubt not would be thought in reality very so-so, by people who cannot admire anything lower than an Alp, or nearer home than Italy, get hold of one on paper with a strong fascination—the sorcery of truth. Southward we shall find a Dorsetshire schoolmaster, good William Barnes, not only putting down true village thoughts in sweet village poems- I would say nearly as good as Burns', only I am rather afraid of some Scotch relations of mine, who have more than a touch of the thistle in their composition—but also contributing an essay on an obsolete local dialect or language, complete ai.. clever enough, I am told, to attract the attention of philologists and antiquarians. Abroad, even, where the people are not so free to speak as with us, unless I am misinformed, -there is the same sort of work going on. It was only last year we were reading the experiences of the travelling Tailor of Werdohl, in Westphalia, who stitched his way through Europe and a good part of Asia. Then has not Miss Costello (though she is wrong about the Welsh) told the English ladies how, if they go to Agen on the Garonne, Monsieur Jasmin the Barber- Troubadour or TroubadourBarber, instead of curling their hair, will make them weep with reciting his own Provençal ballads—to say nothing of M. Reboul the baker of Nismes, and Savinien Lepointe, and scores of other lowly working men in France, who hare found that they are worth songs as well as souls of their own! Can I, who am but a humble old travelling clerk (“ a bagman " Theodore Hook would have contemptuously called me), and dare to write like the rest of them, see all this and be unmoved? No, truly, Sir, I am proud to live in such a time.

Very proud, but a little jealous also. “Ay, there it is !” will cry some active member of the Society for the Obstruction of Knowledge. “ The old bore is honest after all! Of course, all that speechifying made him uneasy, wanting, as he owns, to be on his legs himself. This comes of all your wholesale cultivation of the masses !” And forth with is rehearsed a bead-roll of the

« AnteriorContinuar »