Imágenes de páginas

We have this paragraph whilst Mr. Snipeton—in the king's highway, and moreover upon horseback-kissed his young wife, ('larissa. Although the man kissed the woman through a wedding-ring—a lawful circle, and not a Pyramus and Thisbe cobink—we have 110 ?Neuse for him, save this, it had been dragged from him. She--poient highwaywoman-had made him surrender his lips by the force of death-dealing weapons. IIe was about to separate from her. He took hier by the hand-grasped it—she looked in his eyes, and we say it—the old husband kissed his

young wife!

o l'aw-caw-caw!" At the very moment-yea, timing the very smack—a carrion crow flapped its vans above the heads of man and wife, anıl hovering, thrice cried “caw-caw—caw," and then flew to the northward, it might be to tell to gossip crows of human infirmity ; it might be, like coward scandal, to feed upon the dead. Lowerer, the married pair separated. He would return carly—very carly that day—to dinner. And she would gently amble homeward ; and-as she knew she was the treasure of his soul-she would be very careful not to take cold. She would promise him-ay, that she would.

“Remember-close-very close,” said Snipeton in a low voice to St. Giles ; and then again and again he kissed his hands to his wife's back. “She might look once behind," thought Snipeton gravely ; and then he smiled and played with his whip. It was not impossible—nay, it was very likely—she was in tears ; and would not show the sweet, delicious weakness to the servant. And still Snipeton paused and watched. IIow beautifully she rode! Strait as a pillar! And how the feather in her hat sank and rose and fluttered, and how his heart obeyed the motion, as though the plume were waved by some enchantress.

IIc wished he had taken her with him to St. Mary Axe. What! Ricle with her through the city? And then he recoiled from the very thought of the thousand eyes opened and staring at her-as though by very looking they could steal the bloom they gazed at--recoiled as from so many daggers. Still le watched her. Something made him, on the sudden, unquiet. And then, as if at that moment it had only struck upon his car, he heard the clanging cry of the crow. Another moment, and he loudly laughed. Was it anything strange, he asked himself, that crows should caw? And then again he looked gloomier than before.

He would go home, he thought. For once, he would make holiday, doing double work on the morrow. Yes ; he would not toil in the gold-mine to-day. And now she had turned the lane. It was too late. Besides, business was ever jealous-revengeful. Love her as you would for years, the beldam brooked no after neglect. She would have her dues—or her revenge. And with this thought, Snipeton stuck his spurs to his horse, and rode as though as he was riding to Paradise or a hundred per cent.

“I ask your pardon, ma'am,” said St. Giles to Clarissa, about to put her horse to its speed, “but master told me to follow close, and— indeed I ask your pardon-but 'tisn't possible, mounted as I am. I've had a hard bout to keep up, as ’tis. No offence, ma'am," said St. Giles, very humbly.

Oh no ; we shall soon be at home-'tis not so far,” answered Clarissa ; and her altered look, her mournful voice surprised hin. It was plain her cheerfulness had been assumed; for, on the sudden, she looked wearied, sick at heart. Poor gentlewoman ! perhaps it was parting with her husband. No: that generous thought was banished, soon as it rose. Already St. Giles had a servant's love for his young mistress ; she spoke so sweetly, gently, to all about her. And then-though he had passed but one evening with his fellow-servant, Becky-he had learned from her so much goodness of the lady of the house. Again and again he looked at her ; it was plain, she had overtasked her spirits ; she looked so faint--so pale.

“ Dear lady—beg your pardon—but you're not well,” cried St. Giles. “Shall I try and gallop after master ?

“No—no ; it is nothing. A little fatigued—no more. unused to so much exercise-and-nothing more. Let us hasten home,”—and controlling herself, she put her horse to an amble, St. Giles whipping and spurring hard his wretched beast, to follow, that nevertheless lagged many yards behind. A horseman overtook him. My good man,” said the stranger,

can you

way to Hampstead church ?"

“I don't know I'm in a hurry,” and in vain St Giles whipped and spurred.

“Humph ! Your beast is not of your mind, any how. 'Twould be hard work to steal a horse, like that, wouldn't it?” asked the man.


I am

me the

I see

“ Steal it !” and St. Giles looked full in the speaker's face, and saw it one indignant smile. Surely, he had met that man before, Come, fellow, you know me ?” said the stranger.

66 Once would have done me a good turn.

now you recollect me. Yes ; we are old acquaintance, are we not ?”

“No, sir ; I know nothing, ,” said St. Giles, but he shook with the lie he uttered. Too well he knew the man, who, with looks of triumphant vengeance, scowled and smiled upon him. It was Robert Willis ; the murderer loosed from his bonds by the magic tongue of Mr. Montecute Crawley. “I beg, sir, you'll not stop me. For the love of goodness, don't, sir”—and St. Giles trembled, as though palsied.

“ For the love of goodness! IIa! ha! For the fear of the gallows, you mean. Now, listen to me ; felon — returned transport. That lady must not go back to her home. Nay—’tis all settled. She goes not back to old Snipeton—the old blood-sucker! -that's flat. “What do you mean?” cried St. Giles stunned, bewildered.

My meaning 's plain-plain as a halter. When we last met, you'd have put the



neck. Raise one cry-stir a foot faster than 'tis my will and — and as sure as green

leaves hang from the boughs above you—so surely—but I see you understand—yes, ycu are no fool, master St. Giles, though Hog-lane was your birth-place and school, and Mister Thomas Blast.

you see, I know your history—your only teacher."

“ Do what you will ! Ilang, gibbet me, you sha’n’t lay finger on that blessed lady” – and St. Giles, throwing himself from his useless horse, ran like a deer after his mistress, Willis, with threats and curses, following. St. Giles, finding his pursuer gained upon him, suddenly stopt, and as Willis came up, leapt at hin, with the purpose of dragging him from the saddle, and mounting his horse. In a moment, Willis, beneath bis assailant, was rolling in the dust ; but as St. Giles was about to leap upon the horse, he was levelled to the earth by a blow from Tom Blast who — he

a wonderful man for his age!--sprang with the agility of youth from a hedge.

What?” cried his early teacher to the prostrate St. Giles,you 'd do it agin, would you? Well, there never was sich a fellow for stealing horse-flesh! You was born with it, I suppose,' -said the ruffian, with affected commiseration, balancing the

[ocr errors]


cudgel that had struck down the vanquished~"you was born with it, and—poor fellar—it's no use a blaming you.

In a moment, Willis had remounted his horse, and shaking his clenched fist over St. Giles, galloped off.

“ How now !"-gasped St. Giles, his sense returning—“how now,” he cried, opening his eyes, and staring stupidly in the face of Blast" what's the matter? What's all this?

Why, the matter is jist this,” said Blast. - Your missus is much too good for your master. That's the 'pinion of somebody as shall be nameless. And so you may go home, and tell 'em not to wait dinner for her. It's wickedness to spile meat.”

“ Tell me—where is she—where have they carried her—tell me, or-” and St. Giles," seizing Blast, was speechless with passion.

“I'll jist tell you this much. Your lady's in very good company. And I'll tell you this, particularly for yourself; if you go on tearing my Sunday coat in that manner, I know where the constable lives, and won't I call him ! With this dignified rebuke Mr. Blast released himself from the hands of his captor, who--with a look of stupid miscry—suffered him to walk away.



WELL, Sam,” said Shuttle, as he rubbed his face with the towel till it glowed like a November pippin, “yours seems to be a nice easy sort of life of it, leisurely walking in the land of Goshen, eh?"

“Pretty well,” replied Sam, looking down on his superlatively glossy livery, “but we'se got used to the sort of thing, and we’se don't always be thinking of eating and drinking as in low life. It's the gentility's makes the difference.”

“It's slavery, Sam, slavery,” said the old weaver, combing down his few scanty locks, for he was about to proceed to an artizan-meeting on the Ten Hours' Bill, and was making himself tidy ;

“ for such as you and I, Sam, can only get into Goshens of that sort on our hands and knees, and

“La ! Shuttle,” interrupted his wife, whose portly girth looked

[ocr errors]

like a note of admiration beside her little old shrimpcd-up hardworked cornma of a husband, "sich 'pinions as them do very well för per l'nions and Dilly-gations, but Sam's quite right to stick to gin-tillity and chickens and Madeira when he can get 'em. Sich tutions a high life are el-lewating to us Christians, Shuttle, and,


may say, are next to the truths of the kat-a-kis, instid o' your pinions, as, Trounce the beadle says, would pull down Church and State. No! Sam wouldn't be my dear sister's son, as lived in the noble the Mar-kis of Frizzle's kitchen twenty-two years and ten months, if he didn't likes chickems and felt el-lewated by harristok-ri-si."

" Fudge, Mrs. Shuttle,” said the old man, as he put on his hat, " you talk about what you don't understand. But come, Sam, you want to hear a little common sense, don't you?

“Oh, no," replied Sam, as taking leave of Mrs. Shuttle he followed the old man to the door and brushed the dust of a pauper chair off' his Goshen badge of knee-worship, “ 'tisn't 'pinions, but my Lord lIoneysip so often talks of Commons' Committees whilst I stands behind his chair, that I likes an igea of the bisnis, as it doesn't do to be ignorant 'afore sich a man as Popp, our butler, who is really equal to my loril hisself in hin-formation.”

ilaring thus delivered himself, Sam closed the door and picked his way along the sloppy street; the old grey-headed man, a pace or two before, already lost in thought on the wants and needs of such human creatures as have to pay an earnest for their bread. It was a mean dark street, and such faint light as came through dusty panes or creaking shutters, bespoke of mcagre rushlights bought with necily pence, or run on score at the nearest huckster's shop. lIowever, there was one pretty strong light a-head, and when the old man came up to it, lie saw it was the orthodox-of course unwatered—oil-fed lantern of Trounce, the parish beadle, who was stoutly hammering with his stick of office at a poor mcan door.

Richard Lackbread is our chairman to-night,” said Shuttle, stopping short, “ and he's at the room by this time.”

“ Docs womens gives wotes, or children speechify treason?” asked Trounce, fiercely, “ because it's about the children a coming to our school in sich ragged frocks, and that don't do, Mr. Shuttle-rispect, rispect, is a dooty to our superiors.”

Reserving his forces till he could catch Trounce's pomposity in a still higher state of inflation—for a man, when he's lost his

« AnteriorContinuar »