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woman, you're tired of walking ? You look so ; if, as I looks are anything. Jem, run for the coach. Come
And with this invitation, Capstick gently clasped the arm of the maiden a little awe-struck that she felt the pressure of that mysterious, solemn creature, a live member of Parliament-and led her, ascending, to his room. Mr. Tangle followed, much scandalised at the familiarity of the legislator ; and fortifying himself with the determination, not, without a vehement remonstrance, to ride in the same hackney-coach with a maid-of-all-work.
Mr. Capstick had, he was accustomed to declare, furnished his room with a vigilant eye to his duties as a Member of Parliament. Over his mantle-piece was Magna Charta, framed and glazed. “A fine historic fiction,” he would say ; “ a beautiful legend ; a nice sing-song to send men to sleep, like the true and tragical history of Cock Robin chaunted to children.' He was wont to chuckle mightily at the passage-a fine stretch of fancy he would call it about " selling or deferring justice,” and vow it ought to be written in blood-red letters in the Court of Chancery. 6. There is fine, grave comedy, in this sheet, sir ; an irony that strengthens the nerves like a steel draught. They ought to hang it up on board the Tower Tender ; ’twould make pretty reading for the free-born Englishman, kidnapped from wife and children to fight, and to be cut into a hero to vomit songs about, by the grace of the cat." And in this irreverent, rebellious fashion would the Member for Liquorish talk of Magna Charta. He called it a great national romance ; and never failed to allude to it as evidence of the value of fine fiction upon a people. “ Because it ought to be true," he would say, "they think it is.”
And the misanthrope member had odd nicknack toys; and all, as he said, to continually remind him of his duties as a senator and a citizen, He had a model of George the Third's new drop in mahogany. os One of the institutions of my country,” he would say, “improved under the reign of my gracious sovereign. Some folks hang up the royal portrait. Now I prefer the works of a man to his looks. Every ordinary morning I bow once to that engine as a type of the wisdom and philanthropy of a Christian land ; once on common occasions, and three times on hanging-days.” Besides this, he had a toy pillory ; with a dead mouse fixed, and twirling in it. " And when I want an unbending of the immortal mind within me -by the way,” Capstick once said to Tangle, “what a bow we do sometimes make of the immortal
mind, the better to shoot at one another with—when I want to unbend a little, I place the pillory before me, and pelt the mouse with cherry-stones and crumbs. And you wouldn't believe it, but it does me quite as much good-quite as much—as if the dead mouse was a living man, and the stones and crumbs were mud
There were other fantastic rables which, for the present, we must pass. Mr. ('apstick, to the astonishment of Tangle, approached a corner cupboard, taking therefrom a decanter of wine and a glass. “You are tired, young woman ; and sometimes a little of this-just a little—is medicine to the weary.” IIc then poured out the wine ; which the wench obediently swallowed. İlad it been the most nauseous drug, there was such a mixture of kindness and authority in the manner of the Member of Parliament, —the physic must have gone
down. “ Mr. Capstick, one word,” said Tangle, and he drew the senator to a corner of the room. “ Doubtless, I made a mistake. But
you know we have important business to transact: and no, you never intend to go to Mr. Snipeton's in the same coach with that gentleman's maid-of-all-work?
“She won't bite, will she ?" asked Capstick. “Bite! " echoed Tangle. “Coach is at the door, sir,” said Bright Jem, entering the
“Go you first,” said Capstick to Tangle in a tone not to be mistaken ; “I'll bring the young woman.” And if Tangle had been really a four-footed dog, he would, as he went down stairs, have felt a great depression of the caudal member, whilst the senatorial muffin-maker tript after him with the ignominious maidof-all-work.
CHAPTER XXXI. For some days Snipeton had half resolved to surprise his wife with a present ; a dear and touching gift,—the miniature of her father. Again and again he had determined upon the graceful act; and as often put the expensive thought aside—trod the weakness down as an extravagant folly. And then it would occur to his benevolence, that he might make a bargain with himself, and at the same time impart a pleasure to his spouse. The miniature
was enriched with diamonds ; first-water gems, he knew, for he had lent gold upon them ; though his wife—at the time of the loan she was yet unmanacled—was unconscious of the ready money kindness. Her father had withered, died, in the clutch of the usurer ; who still cherished the portrait of the dead man -it was so very dear to him. The picture had been a bridal present to Clarissa's mother ; it had lain warn in her wedded bosom ; though Snipeton, when he grasped the precious security, knew nothing of its history. Well, he would certainly delight Clarissa with this sweet remembrance of her father. She knew not of its existence, and would bless and love her husband for his sudden goodness. He would give the wife the miniature ; it was settled : he would do it. “ What! with the diamonds ?” cried Snipeton's careful genius, twitching his heartstrings, to pull him up in his headlong course. “ With the diamonds, Ebenezer Snipeton ? Are you grown lunatic-doting? Diamonds, cternal diamonds,
-diamonds everlasting as the sunthe spiritualised essence of Plutus - diamonds for one flickering look ; for one sick smile from withering lips? Have you forgotten the worth of wealth ? Lost man ! are you suddenly dead to arithmetic ? Give diamonds to your wife? Pooh! pooh! As women love any thing that glitters--and as moreover they love Jack-o'-lanthorns just as well as heaven's own stars—don't throw away the real treasure ; but mock it ; sham it ; pass off a jeweller's lie, and let the picture blaze with the best and brightest paste. He's a fool who throws pearls to pigs, and thinks the pork will eat the richer for the treasure. He's no less a fool who showers diamonds upon his wife when, knowing no better, paste will make her just as grateful." And Snipeton gave all his cars to this scoundrel genius, that lived in his heart like a maggot in a nut, consuming and rotting it. There were times, though, when the genius slept; and then Snipeton—ignorant, unadvised man—was determined to be honest, generous.
He would not countenance the fraud of false setting. No; his bird of Paradise ; his lamb ; his darling Clarissa ; the queen flower in his life's garden—for she was this and all of these—should have the diamonds. Besides, if given to her, they were still his own ; for according to the sweet rights of a husband, property so bestowed—with no parchment to bind it might at any time be reclaimed by the lawful lord. After all, it was but lending his wife the diamonds ; though-gentle simpleton !
-she might still be tickled with the thought that they were wholly hers.
It was the morning after the visit of Crossbone ; and Snipeton seated betimes at his cottage window-his eye first wandering among some flowers- his wife's only children as he once bitterly called them-anil at length fixed upon the labours of a bee that toiled among the blossoms, taking sweet per-centage for its honey bank : it was at such a time that Snipeton again pondered on the diamonds. Again he revolved the special pleading of his thrifty genius ; again attended to the counter-reasoning of his affections ; allowing that he had them, and again allowing that affections do reason. Ile watched the bee—conscientious porter!-load itself to its utmost strength, and then buzz heavily through the casement. The insect had taken all it could carry. Wise, frugal, manteaching insect. No: Snipeton would not give the diamonds. He would keep all he could : in his own grasp. All. And the determination, like a cordial, mightily comforted him.
At this moment Clarissa entered the room from her chamber. Snipeton suddenly rose as to an angelic visitor. His wife looked so beautiful so very beautiful. With such new sweetness in her face ; such beaming mildness in her eyes ; there was such grace in her motion, that love and vanity swelled in the old man's heart; and his hand strangely trembled as it greeted her. IIis prudential genius was on the sudden paralysed and dumb. Clarissa looked at her husband, as he thought, never before so lovingly—and for the moment, the miser glowed with the prodigal.
Why, you are better, love ; much better. Even Crossbone's talk has revived you. Ha! and we 'll have this horse, and straightway: and—and the rose of my life will bloom again. Look here, my love." It was done : even at the last one spasm of the heart it cost, but it was over. The miniature—that diamond-circled piece of ivory and paint—was in Clarissa's hand. Astonished, happy, she said no word, but kissed the sudden gift ; again and again kissed it, and her tears flowed. I have often thought-indeed, have long determined to give it you,” cried Snipeton.
“ Thank—thank you, dear sir. Indeed, you have made me very happy,” answered his wife.
His wife! Did she answer like his wife? Was it the voice of his twin soul—did the flesh of his flesh move with her lips ? Was it his other incorporate self that spoke? Did he listen to the echoes of his own heart ; or to the voice of an alien ? When the devil jealousy begins to question, how rapid his interrogations !
“ I tell you,” said Snipeton, “I repeat-I have all along
determined that you should have it ; in good season, have it. Your father's picture, who with so great a right to it? He told me 'twas once your mother's. She wore it, till her death. Poor thing! He must have loved her very dearly. When he spoke of her, and never willingly, he would tremble as with the ague. Clarissa bowed her head ; was silent ; and again kissed the picture. 6. This fondness-these tears, Clarissa, must—if spirits know such matters—be precious to your father, now once more joined with your mother in heaven. Why, what's the matter ? So pale—so lily white ; what is it, love ?”
“ Nothing, sir ; nothing but the surprise—the joy at this gift," faintly answered Clarissa.
“Well, I see, it has delighted you. I hoped so. Much delighted you: very much. You have kissed the picture fifty times, Clarissa. Is it not fifty--or have I falsely counted ? Fifty-is it not ?"
" I cannot tell, sir,”—replied the wife, timidly. “Can they ought they to be counted ?
“Why—but then, I am a cold arithmetician–I can count them ; at least, all that fall to my lips. Can you not tell the number vouchsafed to the gift? Strange! I can count, ay, every one, bestowed upon the giver.” Mournfully, and with some bitterness did Snipeton speak. His wife, with a slight tremorsuppressed by strong, sudden will-approached him. Pale, shuddering victim! with mixed emotions fighting in her face, she bowed her head, and placing her cold arms about the old man's neck, she closed her eyes, and kissed his lips.
• Indeed, sir, I thank you. Pardon me ; indeed I thank you for this and all your goodness.' She felt relieved : she had paid the demanded debt.
And Snipeton- poor old man !-was he made happy by that caress? How much real love was in it? How much truth? How much hypocrisy ? Or at the best, enforced obedience? It came not from the heart: no ; it wanted blood and soul. It was not the fiery eloquence of love, telling a life's devotion with a touch. It was not that sweet communing of common thoughts, and common affections ; that deep, that earnest, and yet placid interchange of wedded soul with soul. In his heart, as in a crucible, the old man sought to test that kiss. Was it truth, or falsehood ? And as he pondered—how mysteriously are we fashioned !- a thing of forty years ago rose freshly to his mind.