Imágenes de páginas


Though if I know my old friend's heart, after an intercourse of thirty years—How much younger we were thirty years ago, eh?— it will draw real tears from your eyes, that are not plagued as mine are, with this troublesome rheum?”

They talked of trivial, common-place subjects over their tea,not as suggesting the least degree of interest to their minds, but from a design, as it might scem, to cheat themselves of any premature reference to the subject which had brought them together. Perhaps, too, to conceal from each other a sadder mood than was congenial with a host's duties, and the atmosphere of a friend's house. But the meal of sobriety once finished, the room set in order by a tidy waiting-maid, and the fire replenished, Rawlings said to his companion,

“ This romance, that I promised you, may, as I said, fail to interest you, though I think that unlikely ;-it may fail to move you, I think that unlikely also: but one thing I am sure of, it will leave

either a better or a worse man. I have known


for thirty years, I say better—better decidedly.”

“But how, my dear friend, can it influence me in either direction? Why must I necessarily become either worse better?” inquired Dodypol.

“ The story may have a moral,” said Rawlings.

“ Truc,--and you mean to test my disposition according to the application I make of it?”

It may appeal to the sympathies,—to the affections."
“ True again,—and you would probe my heart therewith ?”

“ It may—it is likely to excite either the worst or best passions of our nature.”

" Which do you call the worst and best!”

“Forgiveness of decp injuries is certainly among the bestunrelenting estrangement, or animosity, indulged after the repentance of the person who has wronged us, is its opposite.”

" True-most true.”

• Romances, even if they be entirely fictitious, if they inculcate a sound moral—not expressed at the end, in the formal manner of the old fable books, but left to the good sense of the reader to deduce from the progress of the story,—may afford a test of character. But the narration of a romance of real life, as it is called, when the sympathies that are elicited may be shown in actual operation at the will of the sympathising listener, is far more useful as such a test. Say, that I should tell you a tale of touch

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

go on?

as 1)

has i

posse Coll's done

ng distress, --now being endureid by a human being, a man made n your li'ieness and mine, -not two streets off, and you were to express no sorrow—110 sympathy, and it being in your power o afford him relief, you neglected to do so ? Say that, for nstance"

" Your story," repliesl Dudypol, “ would have left me a worse man than I was before I heard it.'

Exactly -o; and the tale I am about to relate,—no fiction, mark,—but real is an ill--pent life, and real also, I thank God, is subsequent remorse,—this tale will leave you either better or vorse, as you receive it. Shall I

By all means: I will abide the test.” There were two brothers-twins, commenced the narrator. “Were or etre?" askel olypol, interrupting him. “I saill were,—I must tell the story my own way,—brothers, vho having reached to years of adolescence, had been models of Fraternal love,—had never-it is much to say-given each other one harsh word; and, inasmuch as the joys and cares, hopes and orrows of one were fully shared by the other, there seemed to xist but one common being,-one heart, one centre of affection or these two individuals, whom, for the sake of distinction, we rill name, in homely fashion, Luke and Paul.

A brief story need not be long in the telling. It was on the lay following their two-and-twentieth birth-day

* You have said nothing of the parents of these twin brothers,” interrupted Dodypol. “Tell me something of them.”

“I know nothing of them, and the interest of the story is not narred by my ignorance. It was on the day succeeding their wenty-second birth-day that Paul entrusted his brother with a ecret, telling him that it gave him great pain to have seemed to light his confidence by withholding anything from his knowledge, nd that he could not bear to do so any longer. The secret that e revealed was his approaching marriage. Far from being nnoyed at the unusual reserve, Luke congratulated him on his yrospects of happiness, and desired to be introduced to the bride ·xpectant, a request the other proudly complied with. Fatal ntroduction ! The wanton woman recalled her plighted troth rom Paul, and, three weeks afterwards, eloped with Luke

· No, by lIcaven,” exclaimed Dodypol, in great agitation, • she was not wanton. A better creature never broke the world's bread.”

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


“ Then, my dear companion and thirty years' friend, you have forgiven her, but your brother?”

“I have forgotten him," answered Dodypol.

* Forgiven him?" suggested his friend.
"Forgotten him!” persisted the other, warmly.

“ You remember what I said,” observed Rawlings, sighing; "my romance was to leave you a better or a worse man.

«Tell me how you got at this history,” said Dodypol, cvading the other's inference; "only two parties—those of whom you spoke-were fully in possession, besides myself, of that sad secret. I, by suffering, was too well acquainted with it—they, at least one of them, by guilt,—the other I believe to be innocent in the main, as I hope to be a saved man. Forty-six years ago, and no one has unsealed the record, till your lips did the office.”

“You must not blame me,” said Rawlings; “ though in getting possession of a secret, which in our thirty years of friendly intercourse you did not think fit to entrust me with, I seem to have done you a wrong:

No more on that head, my friend,” said Dodypol; “ but about my brother-you must have seen him. Is he alive-in England ?”

• He is. In the fog yesterday-here is the romance of my narrative, you took possession of his desk."

“I am incredulous,” exclaimed Dodypol, in blank amazement.

“ What I tell you,” averred his companion, “is sacred fact. You walked into the office of Barker's firm-Barker of Ironmonger-lanc, you know—and were mistaken by the clerk for your brother, who has had a stool there for ten years past, and has dwelt in London the whole of that time.”

“ And we have never, by accident, stumbled on each other's path!”

“ Your brother was, this day, to have joined Barker's firm.” “Ah,” cried Dodypol, “I remember something that puzzled

He is then taken into partnership ?” “ He was to have been—but is not. So suddenly come reverses about-that, with the brightest hopes yesterday, he is to-day a ruined man.

He went, as you know, after the wrong he did you, to America, where he remained for years, and amassed much money. With this money, on his return to this country, he purchased landed property, which appears to have been fraudulently sold him.

He had not been long in possession, before another


claimed it, whose right was also disputed by a third. In the course of litigation, it was made a Chancery affair. Your brother deriving 110 present benefit from his purchase, and having but a dismal prospect for the future, in the law's vexatious delay, sought employment, and became a clerk at Barker's. Only very recently has the long procrastinated suit been brought to an issue—when it terminated, to all seeming, in his favour, and he received an invitation from Barker's firm, to become a partner of the house, on being prepared with the necessary funds. The ceremony—such as it is—was to have taken place to-day. Yesterday afternoon he received intelligence of a reversal of judgment. That is not all ; his share of the costs are sufficiently heavy to ensure his ending his days in a prison.

Dodypol moved uneasily in his chair, and groaned.

“ After giving up all he is worth, including his ten years' savings at Barkers,” proceeded Rawlings, "there will remain just five hundred pounds for him pay, and he will not possess five hundred pence.

Ile will. I have more than that sum, accumulated in my savings of thirty years. For God's sake, go and tell him so, if you know where to find him, and set his mind at ease,” cried Dodypol, speaking very loud and with great volubility. " What tell him that


the five hundred pounds ?" Rawlings almost screamed, rising from his chair.

"To be sure I will. My own twin-brother, grievous as was the wrong he did me-sha’n’t go to gaol for debt, while I have a penny that will be of use to him," replied Dodypol, beginning to weepgrey-headed as he was like a very young child.

“Better-better-better-I said better” cried his fellow clerk, flinging his arm around him.

I forgive him if he is in trouble,” sobbed Dodypol.

As we forgive those that trespass against us,” said Rawlings, sinking back into his seat, and musing on the Christian's model prayer.


“But tell me—for I am yet all at sea on one point-how you found him out ?—or how he found you out ? ” inquired Dodypol, ten minutes afterwards.

* Why, it occurred in this manner,” replied Rawlings. going to the office this morning, to tell Barker of the altered aspect of his affairs, he was thrown into a state of mystification as com

« On

plete as your own. Reference was made to a bruised nose which he exhibited on the previous afternoon, the result of a personal contact with a during the fray, and which had so marvellously recovered in the past night, as to present no symptom of contusion. His wit was quicker than yours. When he had gained all the intelligence to be arrived at respecting the individual who, suddenly appearing in his shoes, as it were, had been mistaken for himself, owing to a particular resemblance, and from his answering to the same name, he asked himself if it could be his twin brother, whom he had so cruelly wronged in early life—whom he had not seen for forty-six years,—of whom he had ever since lost all traces? Could it be? Had possibility no limit? lle entered immediately upon the work of inquiry. Proceeding from one office to another, without question as to the nature of the business transacted there, he at length, just as I was going to my dinner, encountered me at the threshold of our office, and made the demand of me

-Was I acquainted with a party—elderly—just his own age, he said, very like him—bearing the name of Dodypol. I replied that I Had I known him long? For thirty years.

Good luck be my blessing Would I accompany him ? would I listen to him? would I be his intercessor with you? would I prepare you for a meeting ? There, you can imagine all the rest, as well as I can


tell you.

“The more I reflect upon this strange adventure,” said Dodypol, " the more I wonder what can be at the bottom of it?

“ PROVIDENCE is at the head of it,” answered Rawlings. " I believe in Providence. I don't spout about it, like those fellows who make a trade of religion, but I can see clearly that Heaven had one end of a chain yesterday, of which the fog and other casualties supplied the links, and that you, by wise ordination, laid hold of the other end. And now let us lose no time, but set out for


brother's house. “ With all my heart. Forty-six years ago. Give me your hand, old friend ; I thank

Dodypol had not, up to that moment, wiped an old man's tears


from his eyes.


« AnteriorContinuar »